HIDE, nestled in the heart of London, is renowned not only for its exceptional cuisine but also for its innovative dining experiences. At the helm of this culinary voyage is Martin Carabott, Group Head Chef at HIDE.
We sat down with him to uncover the roots of his culinary journey and to delve into the intricacies of HIDE's distinctive culinary style and sustainable practices.
A Passion Born Early
Martin Carabott's journey into the world of culinary arts commenced at a tender age. Drawn in by the allure of creativity and captivated by the various facets of being a Chef, he chose to make it his profession. As he gained experience in diverse kitchens, his thirst for learning and mastering the craft grew, propelling him into the role of Group Head Chef at HIDE London.
"I joined HIDE in 2018. This was when it was still a project in the development and planning stages, set in a dark kitchen in West London. HIDE progressed and developed naturally with the business as it changed in what's been a very eventful five or so years," Martin recalls.
Martin's culinary prowess has been celebrated on multiple prestigious platforms. Notably, he emerged as a finalist in the esteemed 2016 Craft Guild of Chefs National Chef of the Year competition, clinching victory as the British Culinary Federation Chef of the Year in the same year. Martin's accolades extend to the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Annual Award of Excellence in May 2014 and the esteemed Club Secretaries and Managers Association Award for Culinary Excellence in May 2013.
His journey took an extraordinary turn when he secured victory in the Roux Scholarship in March 2018, a remarkable feat at the age of 29. This triumph saw him embark on a stage at the revered three MICHELIN-starred Eleven Madison Park in New York before making his triumphant return to HIDE London, where he eventually ascended to the role of Group Head Chef amid the challenging landscape of the pandemic.
Martin Carabott, Group Head Chef at HIDE Restaurant in London.
Menu Creation and Culinary Identity
HIDE's culinary identity is a fusion of classic European cooking intertwined with modernity and a strong emphasis on seasonality. The menu is in a constant state of change, reflecting the ebb and flow of seasons and the availability of ingredients. Martin articulates, "All the Chefs involved in HIDE are very season-conscious, and so the menu is in a constant state of change."
When a menu changes with the seasons, magical things can happen; flavours become more pronounced, techniques develop and teamwork is a far more inspiring factor to menu planning and the overall dining experience.
"The more experience I gained in different kitchens, the more I wanted to learn about the next thing and then on to the next, and it goes on to this day." There’s a sense of comradery that I find builds up in a kitchen, and with that comes confidence. Leading a kitchen brigade is no easy feat; there’s a lot to consider and a lot of adaptation to keep in mind at times; but all those mini-skills developing Chefs gain along their journeys present themselves very useful down the line. It’s quite a remarkable journey to witness.
Sustainability and Ethical Sourcing
In an era where sustainability and ethical sourcing are paramount, HIDE takes pride in sourcing local, seasonal ingredients. Conversations with suppliers, growers, foragers, and fishermen are part of the daily routine, ensuring that the dishes echo the rhythm of the seasons. The restaurant relies on certified reputable suppliers with whom they have cultivated strong, trustworthy relationships over the years. Yet another strong factor that, while we do experience such support for local here on Maltese shores; knowing that this spread of variety is catered for by Chef Carabott and his team in London, seems like a thorough sourcing exercise; with what I’ve experienced first hand at HIDE as a highly productive result.
Harmonizing Food and Wine
HIDE's emphasis on wine and its seamless integration with the dining experience is a testament to their commitment to providing a holistic gastronomic journey. The collaboration between the kitchen and the sommelier is deeply ingrained in their work culture. Martin emphasises, "There's always an excitement in the kitchen when someone orders a Château d'Yquem and we have the opportunity to try a drop." The experiences of living a MICHELIN-recognised life should always tap into the luxuries of the industry; knowing and understanding your produce, your product, is probably the most valuable and critical part of the job; Chef and sommelier alike.
With Michel Roux Snr celebrating Martin Roux Scolarship win.
Adapting to Change
The recent tumultuous times in the dining industry necessitated adaptation. HIDE underwent a transformation, amalgamating its two restaurants into one cohesive entity, becoming more approachable and flexible in its offerings. Despite the challenges, this evolution has seen the restaurant thriving, with a full house every day.
"Recent events and the consequences thereafter have hit HIDE particularly hard, to give one example; utility bills went up ten fold compared to two years ago and that is precisely why we had to take a more holistic approach to the presentation of our concept."
The COVID-19 pandemic shook everyone, and even though we’d all like to put it behind us and move on; the adaptations and adjustments that many restaurant owners, hoteliers and anyone affected by the 2020 doom; in some ways, are still being felt today. The only way to battle this is flexibility and adaptation; in most cases it shakes things up and makes space for fresh, new ideas where that slight restructure of plans puts everything into perspective.
Staying Ahead of the Curve
Martin Carabott, as the Group Head Chef, isn't swayed by fleeting trends but rather focuses on solid ideas that enhance the culinary experience at HIDE. It's a pursuit of skill and excellence that keeps them at the forefront of the dynamic dining scene.
Growth is admirable, and when celebrated; it can be positively contagious. Chef Carabott’s emphasis on seasonality, technique and exposure is celebrated at HIDE on a daily basis, with prowess and elegance based on solid passion and culinary experience.