Clive Fretwell: the man behind the successful menu at Brasserie Bar Co. Clive Fretwell is the executive chef at Brasserie Bar Co., comprising Brasserie Blanc and The White Brasserie Company. At Brasserie Bar Co. Clive has been charged with supervising menu development, food costing, a new training programme and new site openings. He has overseen Brasserie Blanc’s expansion to a 18-strong group and, having already successfully launched nine pubs, will oversee the rollout of up to 20 over the next three years for The White Brasserie Company. Clive is also in charge of discovering the next great protégé, which he does though his effective training programme and individual development courses for staff.
What inspired you to become a Chef/Open your own restaurant - when was your 'Eureka' moment?
My mother used to cook from scratch every day, and we all helped. Mum worked full time, so whoever was first home had to get the meal up, but it was never a chore. It was a natural passion and progression for me to move into cooking as a career.
What was your very first job?
In my first year of catering college the lecturer asked: ‘Who wants a job washing up this summer?’ I stuck my hand up and he said: ‘Right, you’re off to Norway for three months.’ I had a fantastic three months at the Hotel Jarl in Norway where I did so much more than just wash up. The chefs took me under their wing and really mentored me. It was an incredible.
If you could only cook with 3 ingredients for the rest of your life which would they be?
Sushi rice, raw fish, soy sauce
What's your favourite cuisine and what drink would you have with it?
French, Chateau Morgon, Beaujolais
Which ingredients do you have a love/hate relationship with and why?
Fish. Love to eat it. Hate the way your hands smell after you have prepared it.
Which Chef inspires you the most?
Raymond Blanc - Truly. He has been my mentor for more than 30 years, and I’m still learning from him.
What would be your last supper and who would cook it?
Venison or Woodcock, Raymond of course!
If you had not been a chef, what would you have done?
I have never ever considered doing anything else. Cooking is my life.
Tell us a secret?
I spend every autumn picking fruits with which to make country wines. I make approx. 300lt of cider and 200lt of various wines, which I then give away to friends and neighbours.
What’s your favourite kitchen utensil?
It’s got to be a sharp knife, hasn’t it?
Who would you love to cook for?
Well I’ve cooked for Princess Diana, The Queen and the Queen Mum, the only people I know who can top that would be my wife, my daughters and my grand daughters.
What music/track do you like to listen to while cooking?
For me the music reflects my mood, it can be absolutely any genre. My taste is very varied and eclectic.
Favourite junk food/ guilty pleasure?
A bar of dark Toblerone. There is always one bar in the fridge, which normally lasts me from one Christmas to the next.
What irritates you most about the industry?
Lack of dedication from young chefs.
Tell us about the most difficult customer you have ever dealt with?
All feedback is taken seriously, but I find it extremely difficult if it is clear from the comments that the person knows nothing about food.
Who would be in your fantasy dinner party?
My greatest pleasure is to cook for friends and family, not strangers. Time is very precious, so I prefer to enjoy every free moment.
What dish would win over your heart?
When I’m dining out and I am presented with a dish that is just so simple, yet absolutely honest in its conception, combinations, textures, tastes...I love that, really! Simple but sublime!
Raymond Blanc and Clive Fretwell have just launched Les Classiques, revived French classics at the group of authentic French restaurants, Brasserie Blanc. brasserieblanc.com/brasserie-blanc/les-classiques