World Chefs: Anthony Cumberbatch at Bubbas in London
By Rachael Getzels
LONDON (Reuters) - Anthony Cumberbatch is setting new standards for Caribbean food at the newly opened Bubba's Restaurant in Tulse Hill. Named the ‘Best Caribbean Chef in the UK' in 2006, Cumberbatch has trained at the Savoy and the Ivy, and he's also cooked for Mick Jagger and George Clooney. Combining his Michelin-star training with the tricks he learned growing up on a farm in Barbados, Cumberbatch is spicing up the Caribbean food scene in London.
Q: Why have you chosen to specialize in Caribbean food?
A: I've always looked at Caribbean cuisine and you mainly get takeaways. They do good food but to me, Caribbean chefs aren't really put on the map properly for their food, so I wanted to do something different. I worked at the Caribbean Scene in the Docklands and from there I opened up my own place called Bamboo Grove in Croydon but that was always a bit rocky because we opened during the recession so we had to close. Caribbean food has to done in a certain way. You've got famous Italian food, you've got the French but not Caribbean.
Q: What's your experience with Caribbean food?
A: I was born in Dulwich and I got sent to Barbados when I was one. I grew up with my grandparents and my grandmother used to cook your sweetbreads, cakes, jerk chicken - she used to cook all of the different dishes; how they cook in Barbados is different from the Jamaican style. My granddad as well, he had a farm so we used to have cows, pigs, chickens, rabbits, goats, sheep. He also used to be a butcher - he did his butchering on the weekend and he'd sell the meat to the locals and then we'd go to church. I was bought up on fresh food so I was always around good cooking.
Q: How do you bring your training in Michelin-starred restaurants to your cooking?
A: My food is a Caribbean cuisine but I've mixed it up with French. At the end of the day it's all about presentation - the food needs to look good, it needs to look like art. So I've mixed and matched certain flavors and styles. For example I've got jerk pork which I've mixed with beetroot ravioli and a dash of trout roe vinaigrette which no one would think about putting together. Normally if you go to Caribbean restaurants you get rice and beans which go on the same plate and then a salad. I hate flat food. I like to work up and across the place and serve sides in separate dishes.
Q: What inspired you to be a chef? Continued...