From Gordon Ramsay to working at London’s newest Michelin star restaurant

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From Gordon Ramsay to working at London’s newest Michelin star restaurant

Pastry sous-chef Hesky Meyer broke out of the kosher kitchen to enter the world of high-end dining

Louisa Walters is Features Editor at the Jewish News and specialises in food and travel writing

After struggling through his GCSEs, Hesky Meyer knew A-levels were not for him. But his school, the Menorah Foundation in Edgware, offered a cooking course so he thought, why not? Suddenly he was flying. “I was really excelling in the class – the teacher told me I actually had to slow down a bit,” he recalls. From there it was a natural step to do work experience with Jewish caterers James Zimmer and Zeitlin.

“In the beginning, I was doing everything because I knew I wanted to be a chef. When I tried my hand at pastry, I knew I’d found my niche. There was a calmness about it, a focus – even though I was so busy and often stressed, it never felt like a task.” In 2019 he joined the kosher restaurant Tish in Belsize Park as a pastry chef de partie, with a determination to adapt regular ingredients for the kosher/dairy-free market and make a difference.

The team was furloughed during Covid and although Hesky could have gone back when the restaurant reopened, one night while scrolling thought Instagram, he saw that Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, which has three Michelin stars, was hiring. “I was sure I’d never get the job. I was so underqualified. I had no Michelin experience. I’d only worked in one restaurant, which doesn’t even use milk!”

Hesky Meyer

And yet, he replied to the Instagram story and landed himself an interview. “I was in the car with my mum when I got a phone call from HR at Gordon Ramsay saying we’re offering you the position. I was like – no way!”

Hesky was thrown into an intense arena. “Everybody was working at a fast pace, but it was brilliant. When you go to a Michelin star restaurant, the theatrics, the food and the service blow you away. With tasting menus, sometimes people think the portions are smaller, but each refined dish offers something different over the whole menu. I guarantee you, I’ve never left a tasting menu hungry.”

What about Gordon himself? “He’s a really lovely person. It was just the sheer size of him that threw me off! When he comes in, he shakes everyone’s hands and asks how you are and has a bit of a joke around. The Masterchef finals were filmed at the restaurant (in 2020) and when the cameras were off there were times the no-nonsense leader side came out, but I really enjoyed the experience.”

Six months after Hesky joined he took over the patisserie section at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. Exiting a kosher kitchen afforded him a new culinary freedom. “You’re working with the finest ingredients such as Fraise de Bois strawberries that are £10 a punnet, sobacha (Japanese buckwheat) and white truffle that can be £5,000 a kilo. Just to be around these ingredients and the chefs was phenomenal. I don’t regret working in kosher kitchens though – I learned a lot. It’s a different type of challenge. And whenever dairy-free guests came in I was confident that I could do something for them.”

Pavylllon London

By last summer Hesky, 26, was ready for another challenge and had heard that renowned French chef Yannick Alléno, who has 16 Michelin stars across his 17 restaurants across the world, was opening a restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel London Park Lane, his first in the city. It was a much bigger team working on breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner services. Hesky landed a role as sous-chef on pastry.

“At Pavyllon London, the food is very French and everything is made in-house, from the bread and the brioche to the puff pastry. I start in the morning by checking off the orders and making sure the team have their tasks in hand. I check on the breakfast service before getting set up for lunch and there’s a briefing before service. We then have dinner service in the evening so it’s a full day but it’s fantastic to see guests enjoying the pastry creations.

Afternoon tea is the classic offering but “a bit more French. The pastries are a bit bigger. Scones come on the side with three toppings. There’s our take on the Jaffa Cake and exotic pavlova. Rum Baba mojito-style and a hazelnut praline and gian-duja cookie. And then also a classic marble cake.” Last month, Pavyllon London has just been awarded its first Michelin star, just six months after opening. “We were working very hard towards the star and we were feeling positive, but you don’t have it until you have it. It’s discipline, hard work and nonstop creativity.

“We have a beautiful counter, which looks into the open kitchen so you can hear the chefs talking. You can hear how the service goes. You can feel the heat sometimes – people love it. Some even have their business meetings sitting at the counter.”

One day the head of sales in the Middle East was having a meeting with an Israeli family in the hotel. “I saw an email request for kosher amenities for their room and I replied saying I’d love to help and I suggested a list of places in the local area. They were so grateful. And a couple of days later I was invited to have a coffee with them and I sat chatting, telling them about my sister who lives in Tel Aviv.”

Hesky and his wife Amber, who live in Pimlico, went to Vegas to get married last summer but next weekend they are having a Jewish wedding in London. “Being Jewish is who I am and when I got engaged I invited the whole Ramsay team to the engagement party and they loved it.”

Meli-Melo (mish-mash)

He keeps kosher at home “because it’s easier that way. But I do think quality can be improved in the kosher industry in general. I want to bring everything I’m learning from the Michelin star experience at Pavyllon London to the kosher world and maybe one day open a restaurant or patisserie or both.”


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