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Women on top of their game: Sandi Richmond Executive Chef of Nobu Shoreditch

Sandi-Richmond-Head-Chef-at-Noby-Shoreditch-exclusive-interview

Sandi Richmond, Executive Chef at Nobu Shoreditch, took the reins at this iconic Shoreditch restaurant  in April this year, after gaining her Nobu training and experience first at Nobu Dubai and most recently at Nobu Istanbul.

Our Editor had a pleasure of meeting ChefI as Richmond at the iconic Nobu hotel.

Sandi is originally from Durban, South Africa, where she trained in classical French cuisine and worked at hotels and even bush camps around Africa. The camps allowed her to develop her creative skills as vital ingredients were often lacking from supplies and had to be replaced with what was available. She also ran her own very successful African-Portuguese restaurant in Durban for four years, before accepting a position as a Head Chef at the One & Only in Cape Town, home of Africa’s only Nobu restaurant.

Sandi’s love affair with Japanese cuisine started when she dined as a guest at Nobu Cape Town. She didn’t know Japanese, let alone the Japanese-Peruvian style of food at all then and wasn’t sure what to order so happily accepted the waiter’s recommendations. That was a defining moment for her. “I was blown away by the amazing food. I didn’t know about Nobu before then, but decided there and then to make my career within Nobu.”

What do you enjoy most about your job and what do you find are most challenging aspects of it?

“Customer satisfaction is really important to me. The reactions of our customers, when they taste the food, says it all. That’s invaluable and instant feedback which we can observe from the open kitchen at Nobu. I also love training younger chefs.

Learning the names of the Japanese products and ingredients took a lot of work, to understand what they are and how they are made too. Studying Nobu’s books was a great help as they have glossaries of ingredients and explain well what the products he uses are. Thanks to the books, and the incredibly well-run training programme at Nobu restaurants, us chefs can learn the Nobu way of cooking. Nobu Matsuhisa himself visits the restaurants around the world and was here in Shoreditch this summer, cooking with us chefs and inspiring us all. My knowledge of the Japanese language is now very good when it comes to food, but very limited outside the kitchen I’m afraid.”

What to you is the ’one ingredient’ that has made Nobu the success it is?

“There are many things but to name one thing would be his miso. He took miso to another level. A lot of his recipes have his amazing miso in them in one form or another.”

Female chefs are still a minority in the kitchens of high-end restaurants with only 17 percent of chef positions in the UK held by women.

Have you felt that your gender has put you under more pressure and facing more obstacles than your male peers?

“I’m sort of used to it growing up in a male dominated industry. I have however noticed the increase in the numbers of female chefs and have never myself felt hindered by my gender or not gotten a job because of it. This is a universal issue across many industries not just in restaurants”.

I asked Sandi Richmond, Head Chef at Nobu Shoreditch what her favourite Nobu dish is

“I have a lot of favourites but the Rock Shrimp with Creamy Spicy Sauce is something I eat every day and really enjoy. It’s a tempura dish, nice and crispy in a creamy egg sauce, served on a bed of lettuce, topped with chives. It must be eaten all together as the combination of all the flavours is mind blowing.”

www.noburestaurants.com

You may also enjoy reading our exclusive interview with Amethyst’s Head Chef and Founder Carlo Scotto.