5 minutes with PHMG’s executive chef Ben Varela
I became a chef because growing up with a mix of Greek and English heritage – I was always surrounded by an abundance of beautiful food, with all kinds of flavours introduced to me at a young age. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen surrounded by family, and experiencing food with those I loved. I was always mesmerised by the way food brought together family and friends. Serving good food and seeing the reactions from people will always bring me great joy.
At the start of my career I didn’t realise the commitment and sacrifice it took to make it as a great chef.
The hardest part of managing multiple venues at once is being able to give enough time to each venue each week to ensure we are continuously moving forward as a business. While some weeks, a majority of my time is spent at a particular venue, communication with my chefs is continuous, day and night, regardless of where I may be.
The best part of my job is the amazing people I get to work with, both front of house and in the kitchen. Seeing these two departments coming together and getting a positive reaction from a customer is priceless and something I thrive on. I have also been privy to some amazing young talent coming through the ranks who are genuinely passionate about the industry and will make their mark soon enough.
The biggest revolution in pub dining, in recent years, has been the move away from ‘pub grub’ with the introduction of more ‘gastro-pub’ dining experiences. The expectation of diners who come to one of our venues for a meal is like that of any restaurant. Now we’re formulating menus that are both complex and inviting for diners, who will then choose to eat at one of our pubs rather than at a restaurant.
In five years’ time the line between ‘pub dining’ and restaurant quality food will have been completely blurred.
Public House Management Group is all about fresh produce and big flavours. We focus on having a positive impact on the local community and giving those closest to our pubs a place to meet and enjoy quality products and customer service.
Of all the dishes on the Public House Management Group menus at the moment, my pick would have to be the beef cheek ragout with pappardelle at The Royal Hotel Paddington.
Image: Dominic Loneragan Photography