The Handbook Meets…Michael Riemenschneider

By Alex Kerr |
21st November 2014

You know your restaurant is a success when you have to relocate to a bigger venue to meet demand, just as Michael Riemenschneider had to when his restaurant Canvas outgrew its Marylebone home and headed to Chelsea. We caught up with the Swiss-born chef to talk about family recipes, desert island dishes and working with Heston Blumenthal. 

Tell us about the ‘Design your own menu’?

Essentially we are offering the most personalised, modern menu, it’s an a la carte tasting menu so you can choose your number of courses from one course up to twenty one and we scale them in size according to your selection. 

Where does the inspiration come from for your dishes?
I find inspiration all over the place, and often come up with recipe ideas at the most random times, even if it’s out walking the dog and being inspired by seeing wild herbs!  I do find that some of the best ideas come when I shut myself off, listen to music and go into the zone.     

Which is the most popular dish and which is the most unique?
That would be a tie between my signature dish of langoustine with pearl barley or my grandmothers bread and butter pudding which is a family recipe that is actually made with white chocolate custard, brioche and croissants instead of bread. The most unique has to either the Beetroot, raspberry, chocolate and basil desert or the scallops with cauliflower that is served 21 different ways!

What is your own favourite dish?
Cod and Pig Cheek, Pancetta, Lentils and Spatzle 

What is the largest number of dishes anyone has ordered and what is the most unusual dish a customer has ordered?
The menu goes from one course to 21 and believe it or not we have had some takers of the full 21 course experience.   I’m not sure about unusual but one of the most challenging was being asked to do a 12 course vegan menu at the last minute with no time to prepare.  I’m pleased to report that the diners loved it and are now regulars – but we now know their dietary requirements and prep accordingly!  

You have received very experimental training having worked at the Fat Duck closely with Heston, can you give us the 3 biggest tips you learnt from Heston?
It was a great privilege to work with Heston and to be a part of the Fat Duck in its early days.  I think the three key things Heston taught me would be:

1. Not to be afraid to push the boundaries

2. Determination to look to find new ways to deliver the ordinary

3.  The huge opportunities that being a successful chef offers both inside and outside the kitchen

What have you learnt since opening your own restaurant?
How important it is to have the right team around you.  It’s all very well doing my part to the best of my ability but having the support, enthusiasm and experience from the wider team is absolutely key and I’m fortunate to have some of the best in the industry around me.   

What is the competition like between restaurants? Do you all get on as chefs or is there rivalry?
I think that there’s always a little bit of healthy competition but as an industry I like to think that we aim to support each other wherever possible, and that’s certainly my ethos. 

If you were only allowed 3 ingredients to take with you on a desert Island what would they be 
Cauliflower, black pudding and jar of Nutella, I know these aren’t the most sensible of suggestions, but if you’re stranded on a desert island, you may as well take things you enjoy!

www.canvaschelsea.com

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