Back at 64 degrees…

After several years of bakery work (became an actual baker and Viennoiserie person #veryproud) thanks to Covid I finally made the decision to go back to cheffing. Was not a very hard thing to do as I love changes and I reached a moment in my life when I did not see any challenges around me. So we briefly talked with Michael (not even a coffee LOL) and we shook hands. 64 Degrees became my new platform.

I can talk pages about how I changed in the last 5-6 years (since I left 64 degrees as a pastry CDP) but let’s keep that for another time. I grew in knowledge and mind and even rolling croissants in the last 3 years – unconsciously created/invented/develpoped my very own style in food.

I have the strength of not caring too much about what’s happening around me, in other restaurants, or on other plates. This allows me to imagine and not limit my creativity by ‘liking others’ and trying to copy them eventually. Also, I truly believe in sharing – otherwise, i would not have run this blog for 12 years. OMG, 12 years!!!! :)

The Brighton food scene is amazing. Lots of places for cheap and middle and fine. You have a nice handful of restaurants with perfection all over. Perfectly poached fish, excellent medium rare lamb, perfect pink rhubarb (we all know it’s fake though :)) and perfect ‘laminated bread’ – which is not even a thing, that does not exist LOL. But it’s all perfect, planned, predictable, and wasteful. 70% of the people want this. Then 64 degrees feeds the rest of them – the humans who want excitement, never tried flavours and unknown ingredients/techniques. Customers coming in who want to know more about the food they eat – who wants to chat about the industry and life and haggis. People who appreciate the explanation behind every dish and the importance of knowing your food and the foraged ingredients and the fermentation moulds. Whoever wants an experience with some real mindblowing wines on the side.

Luckily Chef Michael is very much on the same page as me – with creativity, passion and obsession towards fermented food and its endless possibilities of it. In the field of creating unknown (wonderful) flavours and using up as much food waste as humanly possible. I just call this #trashcooking – it can be scary for people because they visualise me taking stuff from the bin and serving it. We all know it’s not true. For example, if I should throw away a few fillets of fish at the end of the service but I can pickle it into an escabeche and increase its shelflife (becoming even more delicious) for another 3 days and I will be able to use it as a ‘free snack’ – why the hell not? Turning something into something else but making it tasty (or even tastier) instead of just throwing it out into the bin. This is one of my new challenges at 64 – how far we can go without wasting a thing.

Here I have only a few of my very favourite miniature dishes where we created something mind-blowingly beautiful instead of choosing the bin. I always give a second chance.

seabass escabache

Seabass escabeche. We always have some extra bits of different fishes in the fridge/freezer in case we got pescetarians coming in and we need to replace the meaty main course. On that weekend we had to defrost several portions of seabass for a couple of pesky – but we ended up having quite a lot of the fish after dinner on Monday – and we close for 2 days. The fish has been in the freezer so it can’t go back – so I just quickly pickled it and hoped that will be amazing after our well-deserved days off. AND IT WAS OUTSTANDING. I made the escabeche with lots of spices and fennel and onion and orange peel – it turned out so good I surprised myself. I served it with (also #trashcooking) miso fermented daikon trims and foraged Hoary cress flowers.

fishhead carpaccio

Fishhead project. Yes…. that was also me. It s about the idea of how much fish meat is actually staying on the head after butchering the fish and what about the most precious bit – the famous cheek. Is that just a myth or real for real? Well, Chef Michael was very up for it – we got a huge bag of trout n salmon heads on the next day (for free!) delivery. I had no clue. Till I started to butcher them. It took me about 2 hours I believe. I saved livers, hearts (for different projects) and quite a bit of meat from the back of the fish heads and around the neck (around 500g ish). It was great that I accidentally got red fish so it was very visible when I carved the actual cheeks out. The cheeks are very light pink (not orange). Maximum 100g of it. LOL. I was done (also fullon with tiny cuts caused by the tiny sharp teeth). With the rest of the bones, I made a stock (for other purposes) and saved about a kilo of pure beautiful light orange fish fat (which I will be using in a minute). I cleaned the meat, rubbed with togarashi and meat glue and pressed it into a terrine. Froze. Slice. Served with coal oil, sea salt and alexander flowers. It was huge work but it’s not just a myth. The cheeks are really the tastiest bit. Not sure about the mise en place though.

the mackerel

The mackerel. This fish is one of Michael’s signatures. Since we know each other and working together there was always a mackerel on the side somewhere. Or coming or going. Probably that’s why I love it as well – also because it’s local so it’s always fresh and it’s very underappreciated (which means it’s cheap to buy!). This time we were just brainstorming about using up some buttermilk and marbling it up with some green oil – so ordered 5 whole fish. We tried a couple of things (and I launched a long-term fish sauce with the heads and off-cut bits – cause why not) but we did not have a space on the tasting menu to actually place / swap mackerel on. So i shio cured it – for 3-4 days and I tried after. Hmmmmm. I used it up for a snack – warmed up in the oven for a minute, salted the plate I served on and seasoned it with the miso daikon I mentioned before and some jelly caviar i made out from Michael’s sake vinegar. Was a sexy little bit no doubt.

cod ballotine

Cod ballotine. This technique is coming from the same place as the fish head terrine. Cod is in season now and it’s truly mindblowing in quality. This is our first main course on the menu. And we have lots of off-cuts every single time. Before all of this was just bagged and froze till a better future :) but now we tried to also roll the cleaned fish pieces in different seasonings (seaweed, chilli, chipotle) with glue and tighten it up into a ballotine. Then freeze then slice. I served it with a ceviche-style dressing made out of the previously mentioned trout fat, some passion fruit and magnolia essential oil. Compressed cucumber for crunch and foraged wildflowers for beauty. Lovely.

And its a neverending brainstorming creativity game. Im looking forward to so much more.

Open up your mouth…!

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