Jean-Didier Gouges

How long have you been at the restaurant?
I started in October 2017.

Which was the first restaurant you worked in?
Labourdonnais Waterfront Hotel, a five-star business hotel in my home country of Mauritius. I joined as an apprentice when I was just 17.

What was the last London restaurant you went to, apart from your own?
Rick Stein, a seafood restaurant close by to The Petersham in Barnes.

What or who has been the biggest influence on the way you cook and why?
I would say that Instagram has been a fantastic tool for discovering talented chefs and learning all about new techniques, ideas and ingredients used in the industry. The huge pool of creativity it offers is amazing.

What is your personal signature dish?
It has to be my mandarin and mint cheesecake on the desserts menu at The Petersham – shaped as a mandarin and nestled on a chocolate and orange crumbly ‘soil’.

Which other chef’s) do you most admire?
My grandma – she cooks the best Mauritian food purely from her heart!

What’s the best part of your job?
The opportunity to be as creative as I can with my dishes. When I’m cooking and testing out a new dish I feel like a big kid in a sweet shop – I get to run wild with my imagination.

And the worst?
The long and unsociable hours – you just have to accept that its part of the job.

What would your last meal be?
A Thai feast – full of plenty of chilli and sweet & sour flavours.

Do you have a chef’s shortcut that you can share with us?
Not particularly – personally I would say never rush your dishes, always choose ingredients that are as fresh as possible and simply enjoy preparing your food.