PUBLISHED: 06:17 04 August 2014
copyright: Archant 2014
Why did you choose to become a chef?
As a child growing up in Norwich, I helped my grandmother prepare and cook all kinds of food, so working with her first gave me an interest in cooking. She had been a cook in the palace kitchens in Cairo and met my grandfather when he was stationed in Cairo with the army. My mother worked in restaurants as a waitress and I often visited her at work – I loved the buzz and interaction between kitchen and restaurant, and marvelled how it all came together on service, so in my last year at school I applied to go to catering college in Norwich. Years later, I went to the United States to find my father who had been a GI over here. We’d never had any contact but I met him and discovered he had been a chef and run restaurants!
What do you enjoy most about being a private chef?
Seeing the faces of the clients when I put their first dish down. For a chef, cooking a dinner party is the icing on the cake. I turn up, relax the host, provide a first class service and leave the place spotless. It’s a win-win situation for everybody!
What have been some of the highlights of your career so far?
I guess having Demi Moore telling me my food was orgasmic!
What would you say is special about your menus?
Every menu is tailor-made and eclectic, sourced locally and cooked on the day, using
more than 40 years’ experience of cooking styles from all over the world.
What is the strangest thing you have eaten?
Fried insects in Thailand and sheep testicles in Beirut.
What is your favourite local ingredient?
Are there any foods you can’t stand?
There is nothing I don’t like, although Bombay duck does not do it for me.
Have you had any cooking disasters?
I believe if you plan for a disaster you never have one.
Do you cook for friends and family too?
Yes, when I’m researching new dishes. I’ve recently been trying some molecular gastronomy dishes including spherification, foams, gels and fruit caviar.
What would your last supper consist of?
Something cooked by someone else!
Anthony Hall, 121 Chef, Norwich; 07825 664867; www.121chef.com
Norwich-born Anthony Hall began his career in the merchant navy and on cruise ships, rising through the ranks to cook in the first class kitchen on the QE2.
While back-packing through Asia he worked in Sri Lanka, Nepal, Kashmir and Thailand and later spent five years in Australia, including opening Sydney’s first five-star beach hotel.
Anthony later managed a restaurant on the Caribbean island of Antigua, where he cooked a dinner party for Richard Branson and was offered a job by Roger Taylor of Queen. For four years he worked as Taylor’s personal chef, travelling with him and cooking in his homes and on his yacht. “In that time I met and cooked for many rock stars, including Peter Gabriel, Bob Geldof, Brian May and other big names from groups including Pink Floyd and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers,” says Anthony. “I was known in the trade as the rock’n’roll chef!”
He has also cooked for royalty and worked for the aristocratic Hapsburg family in Vienna, Palma, Croatia and on board their yacht. In Palma he helped found a new cookery school which trains chefs for super-yachts.
Back in Norwich, Anthony managed Pinocchio’s restaurant in St Benedict’s, and launched two restaurants of his own. In December he embarked on his latest venture, 121 Chef, catering for private dinner parties, as well as standing in for head chefs and offering chef training. He’s keen to point out that personal chefs are not just for the wealthy but are being booked by people from a wide range of backgrounds.