Words: Simon Paterson
Images: Majella O'connell & Nathan Wall
The number one ingredient every Chef needs to create the finest cuisine is passion, something Nathan Wall isn’t short of. His passion and talent haven't gone unrecognised, his catering career spans from Michelin to Rosette level across Derbyshire! He is a Chef with a mission, a vision and ambition…so, when he messaged us at S41 we couldn’t wait to interview him to find out about his latest Chesterfield based venture ‘fun dining’.
SP: Nathan, let’s pretend we haven’t met previously, and I know nothing about your latest venture! So, what’s this new, exciting mission you are on?
NW: I have launched a new pop up restaurant at the Society of Coffee on Stephenson’s place called ‘Restaurant Artichoke’.
SP: One of the finest coffee shops in the world may I add!
NW: I completely agree! I’m on a mission to offer the same high standard of food on offer at a fine dining restaurant, but with a more relaxed approach. It’s more like eating at a pub where you can just relax and chill, but also have the same quality that you would expect from a Michelin Starred restaurant, just without the price tag!
SP: So, accessible fine dining, but in a cool little establishment…
NW: Yes, fun dining not fine dining. Fun dining is something that is being thrown around recently in a few restaurants and I think it has a nice message and a great title for this article!
SP: Agreed. Your dishes are weird and wonderful combinations. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
NW: The inspiration comes from the ingredients themselves. I love going foraging for food in our local area. I like to break down the ingredients further and look at it from a different perspective. I challenge myself to come up with a dish that people aren’t doing or simply haven’t thought of yet.
SP: I know you can be creating a dish for up to weeks at a time, tell me about your most weird and wonderful dish, one that really sticks in your mind…
NW: I did a scallop dish on the last pop-up; the sauce took four weeks to create! It started with, well, I have a bit of an obsession with the root vegetable celeriac. It has pretty much been on the menu of every pop-up I have held. I juiced the vegetable to begin with and slowly started to ferment it, I took the weight of the juice and added two percent salt. I placed it on the windowsill and tasted it daily, to see what the flavours were doing and where it was heading. The day before the pop-up I took it off the windowsill and created the sauce with the juice, which was wild! It went down enormously well with diners and they loved the story behind the dish. I personally serve all my dishes and tell the narrative of how they came to be…I feel the story of a dish’s creation is just as important as the appearance and taste, this gets lost in many restaurants.
SP: This is a major part of your unique selling point, because not only do you cook the dish’s, but you serve them and speak passionately about the story behind the flavours.
NW: I really enjoy the part where I mingle with diners and give them a glimpse into how my creative brain works…I give as much detail as I possibly can.
SP: So, at each pop-up you serve five courses?
NW: I serve five courses and each dish has four elements. There may only be four elements, but by keeping it simple I am able to create something quite magical. If I have anything left from the pop-up, I take it home and completely transform it again, making a whole new dish!
Nathan's next Artichoke Pop-up Restaruarant is on the:
Society Coffee Shop and Bar
Call: 01246 220830 to reserve your place