Where are chefs finding inspiration for their food? What cooking trends and techniques have been inspiring them recently? Our Winnow Chef's Table series brings you interviews with chefs from all over the world, sharing some insight into their culinary origins and philosophies.
This time, we speak to Damian Pentelow, Executive Chef at Club Med Cherating Beach. Damian talked to us about his inspiration to become a chef, his main challenges heading a large team, and what he’s learned along the way after reducing food waste by 60% with Winnow.
- How did you arrive at Club Med and what were you doing before?
I arrived at Club Med in Cherating, in 2015. I came across the opportunity to join the Club Med team by chance, while I was looking for new places to travel.
- What inspired you to become a Chef?
I have always been passionate about food, but I only decided to become a chef once I realized that by cooking I could do something that I enjoy while bringing happiness to people. It’s such a rewarding profession.
- Where and how were you trained?
I was trained in South Africa at the Prue Leith Chefs Chefs Academy.
- What challenges did you face when you decided to cut waste from your kitchen?
At Club Med, we offer guests an incredible all-day buffet option with a great variety of both cold and warm dishes. It includes an extensive international food offer featuring French food, Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese, and many more. Because of that, it can be very challenging to keep track of everything that is being produced, and it is even harder to keep track of what is ending up in the bin. So, when we first started managing our food waste, it was near impossible to accurately measure it.
- How does Winnow help you in your daily operations?
Winnow helps me daily by pointing out the dishes that are being wasted the most. Through the Winnow reports, I am able to identify which dishes should either be produced in smaller quantities or removed from the menu. By doing that, I can not only reduce food waste but also, we can save resources and offer a higher quality buffet to our guests.
- Your kitchen has cut food waste by over 60%. What have you learned from this experience?
Our food waste journey has been extremely eye-opening. Before Winnow we didn’t know how much food we were wasting. After cutting food waste by 60%, we saved money and reinvented it in offering better products more regularly on our buffet.
- What do you do to keep track of new industry trends?
Due to my remote position, all I do to keep track of new industry trends is to follow world-renowned chefs on social media.
- What tips would you give to chefs wanting to reduce food waste in their kitchens?
For chefs wanting to reduce food waste, I would encourage them to invest in technology and install Winnow. Also, it is important, to be honest with yourself and recognize when you need help to address an issue, such as food waste.
- Is there a chef you admire most? Who and why?
I admire Marco Pierre White. Due to his passion for making excellent food and his respect for the ingredients.
- What’s your most recent culinary fascination and why?
Lately, I’ve been looking into new ways to use Sambal sauce. I never realized before how versatile it can be.
- Favorite dish?
Any really large rare steak is my favorite dish.
- Best places to eat out in the world?
Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, and Bangkok. Those cities are street food paradise and I love street food.