THE ROTA ARCHIVE

MITSHEL IBRAHIM - THE CHEF DE PARTIE

"I DON'T THINK I COULD EVER EAT ANYTHING THAT MOVES."

Follow Mitshel on Instagram @mitshelibrahim

 

1. What was your first job in hospitality?

My Dad has a resaurant in Milan, which is where I grew up and I'm not going to be the guy who will say 'Yeah I have been cooking since I was 2 1/2 years old' but I was front of house a bit, taking orders, making coffees when I was maybe 7 or 10.  I can't remember, but it wasn't like a job it was just that I would fiinish school, go there and help out my Dad and go home.  Then when I moved to London I did some KP work which was 8 years ago and then I worked at a place called Ombra on Mare Street. 

2. What is your favourite cuisine to eat - preferably the opposite to what you work in?

I really like Turkish food. Grilled meat, fucking bread, cheeses, olives, that's all you need. 

3. Which dish do you most associate with childhood?

My parents are both Egyptian and there is this green leaf that when cooked in broth it becomes gelatinous and it's called Molokhia. Almost like a soup served with braised beef and rice, that is what my Mom used to make all the time. I fuckin love that. 

4. What’s the soundtrack to your first love?

An Italian singer which I still listen to actually, it's called Dargen D'Amico and the name of the song is 'Corallo e Vespe' which means coral and moose, which doesn't make any sense in English. 

5. What do you crave after a long shift?

A steamed bun, like a bao kind of steamd bun. Sometimes I hava kebab, but it can be hard to digest a kebab before you go to bed. Sometimes I go for a McDonalds cheeseburger before I go to bed, but then the trick is to order the steamed bun which is what they normally give with the fish burger but order it with the cheeseburger.  

6. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – what do you have? 

I hardly have breakfast, but when I can I have scrambled eggs or an overcooked boiled egg dipped in salt, I fuckin love that. 

7. What is your favourite word?

That's a tough one. 

8. If you could go on a culinary extravaganza-eating holiday – where you choose to do so?

San Sebastian, I would love to go to Mugaritz and I am dying to go to Relae in Copehnhagen.  But San Sebastian where there is more a cluster of places I want to go to, but Relae is the place I am dying to go. 

9. All at the same time or coursed out?

As it comes. Makes life easy for the kitchen as well. Sometimes you have tables of 8 and they order and want their mains all at the same time as the rest.  As it comes is the way forward.

10. What is the one area of working in a restaurant you wish you knew more of?

Wine, maybe I'll do a course sometime in the future.  

11. What is the best cure for a hangover?

Avocado, salt and pepper, just scoop it off the spoon. I guess a coke as well. 

12. You’re allowed one shift drink – what is it?

A negroni. Definitely. 

13. What is the one thing which guests do that drives you mad?

When they think that they understand food when they don't have a fucking clue.  I mean the internet and media is all good because it gives people a good insight into what is actually happening with a dish, but then often people think they know more than they do. Then they send something back and say 'This is not supposed to be like that' and you're like 'Yes it is you dickhead'.  I also don't like when people abuse waiters. We had a guest once push a General Manager because we were were out of 2 out of the 5 main courses, which yes is bad, but I would never put my hands on someone. I've had bad experiences, but I would never ever do that to a waiter.  I don't understand why someone would take out their anger on a waiter or a manager.  They are just bringing your food and trying to make your evening nice. 

14. Do you have any rituals during a shift?

I brush my teeth before service. 

15. What’s the last film you saw?

The Mask, I haven't seen it for fucking ages, it's so good (laughing)

16. Best thing that has ever happened to you in a restaurant? 

I don't know, often, well maybe not often, but it does happen that a guest says That was the best meal I've had this year' or 'The best dessert I've ever had' and that is really rewarding. Sometimes you have to acknowledge the guest and see who they are and how often they go out to eat, it makes a difference if it's someone you know who works in restaurants or eats out often, than it is more rewarding.  

17. What’s your tagline/motto?

'Solutions not problems.'

and 

'Do it nice, don't do it twice.'

18. Photography while eating – yay or nay?

That is a topic that i have been discussing with some colleagues quite recently. taking pictures of food is something I do myself to remember a particular dish which was presented nicely. However, i feel that recently too much attention is being given to what a dish looks like rather than focusing on serving something that tastes amazing. For example, on Instagram you read all the time 'That looks delicious', which to me makes no sense given that 'deliciousness' is something that you assess by tasting food in your mouth rather than looking at it.  Long story short, I find saying that something 'looks delicious' to be highly superficial because then you have an expectation that it will taste as it looks, which sometimes is not the case. In italian we say 'non si mangia con gli occhi' meaning 'You don't eat with your eyes." 

19. Rank the following in order of priority: wine, food, sex

Food, sex, wine.

20. What would be your last meal – drinks included.

A full rib, potatoes roasted in duck fat and then some very garlic-y mayo and some Morretti. 

21. What makes you happy?

Having happy people around me, feeling appreciated in what I do and how I do it.  Doing a job I'm happy with. 

22. How do you relax?

I just go for walks. I live between Victoria Park and London Fields so somtimes I just wander around. Yesterday I was walking to Spitalfields and it made me feel really relaxed.  To walk to a place I used to go every day and now I don't anymore.  So walking to Spitalfields it made me feel really, I don't know, comforatable somehow.  

23. What is the background on your phone?

The view of a place in Isle of Skye, which I went to in November. There was this tiny house in the middle of nowhere, it was the other side of the main road in the middle of the lake. 

24. Favourite Instagram accounts to follow 

@lemousso

@bianco___

@christianvieriofficial

25. What is the best thing about working in hospitality? 

You get to know people that have other interests besides food. You can talk about food as much as you want but at some point you want to talk about something else, music, travel. I like getting to know people who have common interests but are also interested in other things. Plus going out somewhere and you see someone you know and they bring you something and you feel special.  Then they come to yours and you do the same, you build this friendship out of free snacks which is quite nice (laughing).  You build this network of people and friends. 

26. Which restaurant are you ashamed to NOT have eaten at?

Relae. I can't believe I haven't been!

27. Who is the person you most respect in the industry?

Giorgio Rivelli, he taught me quite a lot. He is very humble and relaxed. He loves food but he also has other interests.  He loves to party, he loves music, he loves to go out for a drink, he's not acting like an ass when he goes out to eat saying something like 'The butter is too cold how am I going to spread this on my bread', people do that! He taught me a lot not just about food, but about attitude. He worked for his dad who also had a restaurant, so wastage was of course a no no and he carries out that same philosophy.  If you didn't scrape the container properly with the spatula, he would give you shit for the whole day.  Which is understandable, people are dying for food and we are just wasting it. 

28. What is your go to party trick?

It's not just a thing I do at parties, but I make very inappropriate jokes. 

29. Finish this sentence: I eat everything except ...

I don't think I could ever eat anything that moves.