“I love to talk about food. I love to eat it and I certainly love to cook it,” says Daniel Putz, Executive Head Chef at The Milestone Hotel & Residences. Dan has been a chef for more than half his life and is truly passionate about creating exceptional food. What excites him most is using quality ingredients to make exquisite dishes, which delight and inspire diners at Cheneston’s Restaurant. Here, we speak to Dan about the importance of seasonal cooking and what’s on his upcoming menus.
How did you start out as a chef?
“I began when I was 15. I knew from school and work experience that it was what I wanted to do. So, I worked weekends and spent my school holidays in the kitchen. I completed an apprenticeship with the Sheraton Grand Park Lane Hotel, before moving to The Ritz London for three years. That’s where the hard work really started, and it was an amazing opportunity to learn.
I then went travelling for two years to broaden my horizons. I went all over South-East Asia, and I did a cooking course in each place I visited. When I returned, I ran a restaurant in Aberdeen, before coming back to London and running The George on the Strand for three years.
Five months ago, I started at The Milestone. The building is beautiful, and it’s an amazing environment to cook in, with its traditionally British feel. My aim is to make great, classic, modern British food that’s seasonal and suitable for everyone. I’m looking forward to developing the team of 10 here and having a bigger arena to showcase my food.”
How important is seasonal produce?
“For me, the seasons are defined by food. As a chef, it’s important to stay in touch with local suppliers and producers, to see when their produce is going to be harvested, so it arrives to you in the best state.
It should be special to eat with the seasons, and, if you’ve waited a year for something, you really enjoy it while it’s in. After it goes, instead of chasing it, find something else and enjoy that. I’m always looking ahead and planning what I’m going to make next. At the moment, we are working on a salt-baked celeriac carpaccio with a creamy bavarois, truffles and toasted hazelnut.
I find spring and summer involves a little less cooking and more freshness, letting the ingredients speak for themselves. Whereas winter vegetables take a lot more cooking and skill to create something great. There’s so much you can do with celeriac, for instance.”
How do you ensure everyone enjoys your dishes at Cheneston's Restaurant?
“We’re serving vegan gnocchi at the moment, with caramelised onion and tender stem vegetables. It doesn’t need meat. The flavour sings somewhere else. But it can be served with a sprinkle of parmesan, if people want. We have a selection of seven milks at breakfast, and we are looking at incorporating a vegan cheese platter. We offer at least two vegan dishes as a starter, main and dessert on our menu. This means that everyone can order from the same menu. We want to give a great experience to everyone who comes in, plant-based or not. It’s about pushing boundaries and serving extraordinary cuisine that everyone can enjoy. Plant-based eating is certainly a rising trend, and it is here to stay. I see creating great vegan and vegetarian food as a challenge. Shining the light on plant-based cooking can help us all to eat better.”
Tuck into Dan’s dishes and enjoy British fine dining at Red Carnation Hotels’ The Milestone Hotel & Residences.