Kerth Gumbs’ CV is pretty impressive to say the least. He’s Cordon Bleu trained, holds Head Chef position at one of Mayfair’s finest restaurants and you may recognise him from the TV as he was one of the Great British Menu 2020 Finalists.
As lockdown hit, Kerth and his team had to step back from their service at Ormer Mayfair, the plush restaurant inside Flemings hotel which prides itself on seasonal, British produce, fresh seafood and foraged ingredients.
We met up with Kerth to find out what lockdown was like for him, from going from the heat of a fast-paced London kitchen to isolating with his wife and four children.
By the sounds of it he used his time wisely reflecting and resetting, getting back on the health and fitness wagon, cherishing precious time with his kids, cooking up his comforting goat curry and making some big plans for the future.
Here’s how his life in lockdown played out…
We made it through lockdown – how was the experience for you?
Like everyone, there have been highs and lows. I’ve had to adjust to a completely new tempo with being at home and missed the adrenaline from the kitchen. But it was a great opportunity to try new dishes and do a lot of cooking. I also did a lot of binge-watching and spent a lot of time with the kids cooking and playing games.
Who did you isolate with and how did you find it?
I isolated with my partner and kids. It was a new experience for my partner to have me at home all the time – still not sure whether she enjoyed it very much! The kids on the other hand had a blast.
What has been the best thing you’ll look back on this time with fond memories of?
I think it will be the time I spent with my children. Working in this industry means working long hours and I am really grateful I got to spend so much time with them during lockdown.
And the most challenging?
Adapting to that slower pace of life… I am so used to the kitchen rush!
The hospitality industry has been hit really hard. How have you coped?
It has been very hard, but on a more personal and positive level, I finally took the time to get back into a better self-discipline, including working-out and trying to stay healthy.
Has it affected the way the restaurant will run in the future?
Yes, I think things will different, but our industry is used to challenge. We will adapt and get through this as we always do.
What changes have you had to make?
We actually launched Ormer at Home during lockdown. It has allowed us to keep our name going and to deliver some of our classic dishes to hungry Londoners.
Let’s talk food. What have you been cooking?
BBQs in the garden and lots of baking with the kids. I also did quite a few food demos and Instagram live sessions, so cooking definitely stayed at the forefront of my routine, even in lockdown.
What was the best you made?
My curry goat and Johnny cakes.
What are you most looking forward to once we come out the other side?
First and foremost, we are reopening on 4th July and the whole team is really excited about it. Summer has a lot in store too: we are going to work with Banquist – the company that collaborates with London chefs to deliver fine dining hampers to customers.
Then, we will also be doing a summer long pop-up event in Austria at the exclusive luxury boutique hotel Kristiania Lech.
And finally, in September, we will be serving a tasting menu based on the dishes that I created for the Great British Menu 2020. So it’s fair to say that we have a lot in the pipeline for the next few months.
Oh, and last but not least, our delivery and collection service also continue to operate giving customers the chance to try Ormer classics at home.