If you

can stand

the heat

ROSL Executive Chef Elliot Plimmer started working in kitchens as a teenager and has never looked back. He tells Overseas about his career so far and what it takes to craft the dishes members have been enjoying since his arrival

I originally wanted to join the armed forces, which does go hand in hand with catering because hospitality is very similar to the structure and hierarchies of that world. My mum always had horses; I’ve ridden since I was very young, so I wanted to go into the Household Cavalry, but I’m colour blind, so I couldn’t join. The day they told me I couldn’t join was the day I sent my CV off to the Savoy Grill.

But I was already working as a chef, I started working in kitchens when I was about 14, pot washing, then started doing the prep, then moved to starters, and I worked my way up. I was running a kitchen by the time I was 17 or 18, which is when I came to London and started back at the bottom. I had never worked in a London kitchen before, so I thought I’d start off as a Commis Chef and work up from there.

My love of food grew from there. Working at the Savoy Grill, my first big kitchen, that’s where the love grew. Andy Cook, who was brought in by Gordon Ramsay, was my Head Chef at the Savoy Grill, he taught me the trade, how to work in a London kitchen. I went and worked with him again at Harrods. He’s incredible.

Working in a kitchen is quite addictive; being under pressure is an addiction. Like on the night of events here at ROSL, you’re so busy, but when you’re prepared for it, 50 covers coming all at once, you can smash it out of the park, no drama. That’s a really good feeling. I love that as much as I love cooking itself.

Working in a kitchen is addictive, being under pressure is an addiction… I love that as much as I love cooking itself

Life at ROSL

I still enjoy searching out new ingredients and trying new things, but equally I now enjoy other people cooking my food. If they are able to replicate the same dish over and over again, it means I’ve trained them correctly. If someone comes in and has a dish and it isn’t what it was last time, it means I haven’t done my job properly. Seeing that consistency, that’s the joy.

I’ve really enjoyed my first few months, creating the menus that have a mix of the old and new on them. It’s what I really enjoy cooking and the members seem to be enjoying it too. There’s something about cooking old school dishes, but giving them a modern twist and making them as nice as possible. If I’m going to put sausage and mash on the menu, I’m going to make sure it’s the best mash, the best red wine jus, the best caramelised onions.

I will make sure it is the best I can do. If it’s simple dishes like this, it has to be done well.

Choosing dishes for ROSL’s menu, it’s to do with the equipment with have in the kitchen to make sure we can do things justice. It’s about seasonal ingredients, making sure it’s fresh, it doesn’t have to come far and it’s cost effective. You don’t want to put dover sole on the menu at the wrong time of year, for example, because it will cost £65 and people aren’t going to want to pay that. It’s also about textures, take the seabass for example, it’s mostly soft but then the croutons are in there to add a bit of crunch.

Scaling that up to a whole menu, and then a whole set of menus across the clubhouse, it’s all about balance. Every dish needs to be different in its own way, so there’s something for everyone.

Surviving the pandemic

COVID has really hit the industry. A lot of lower-levels workers, those below Sous Chef, have left the industry. They’ve all moved to different sectors. Half the people I know that were Chefs de Partie have now become delivery drivers because that’s where the jobs are. It’s a real shame. Hopefully we will start to see things build back up now, but we’ve lost a lot of talent. It makes me so grateful that the chefs here at ROSL are really good, and I’m really keen to hold on to them.

As a Head Chef, I already know how to cook, so now it’s about managing a kitchen, managing the people, and bringing them up, training them to take the next step in their careers. When I look back to when I started in a kitchen, I never thought I’d be doing this, it’s so different, but still so fulfilling.

Elliot’s Christmas Lunch at ROSL

Celeriac & Truffle Velouté, Chestnuts (VG)

Pressed chicken and mushroom Terrine,
Fig Chutney & Toasted Sourdough

Crab Mayonnaise Tian, Avocado & Tomato Salsa, Croute

Roast Aubergine Dip,
Pomegranate Dressing & Spiced Lavosh (VG)

Roast Norfolk Turkey Breast, Confit Leg,
Apricot & Sage Pork Stuffing
Served with Roast Potatoes, Parsnips, Brussel Sprouts,
Braised Red Cabbage & Pigs in Blankets

Confit Celeriac & Jerusalem Artichokes,
Truffle & Hazelnut Dressing, Shaved Fresh Winter Truffle (VG)

Christmas Pudding, Brandy Custard

Crème Brulee, Winter spiced Almond Shortbread
Mince Pies