Joe Mortell is the Chef and owner of Notting Hill’s Zayane Restaurant, serving up modern Moroccan cuisine using seasonal British ingredients. With sophisticated and vibrant flavours on the menu, we wanted to find out what goes on behind the scenes.
Q. How long have you been cooking professionally?
A. I’ve been cooking for five years now!
Q. Where did you train to cook?
A. Thames Valley College for three years, then Westminster Catering College for one year. So that was four years of cooking school in all.
Q. How would you describe your style of cooking?
A. Definitely classic with modern techniques.
Q. Is there another chef that you most admire?
A. Michel Roux Junior
Q. What’s your signature dish?
A. It’s got to be a Moroccan spiced lamb shank.
Q. Do you have a favourite ingredient?
Q. What would you choose for your "last meal”?
A. My Italian Grandma’s pasta al arrabiata al polo.
Q. Do you have a top cooking tip?
A. If you over salt your sauce bring the balance back with sugar or honey.
Q. Do you have a favourite or funny memory of your time in the kitchen?
A. Whenever someone in the kitchen annoys me I put EXTRA Harissa sauce in their lunch and just sit and watch!!!
Q. What advice would you give to someone wanting to become a chef?
A. Expect to work hard and long hours and love what you're doing. It's always rewarding and don't let anybody discourage you.
Q. Any big plans for the future?
A. Getting into the Michelin Guide after just one year of opening gave us a massive boost. We were awarded L’Assiette, which is the Michelin’s recognition of good food, well cooked with excellent ingredients. We want to build on that success, expand the business and make Zayane the first Moroccan restaurant with a Michelin Star in the UK.
Q. Anything else noteworthy you would like to add?
A. When I was at college, one of my teachers told me that I would never be a chef because I was too shy, but with my hard work and my family believing in me. I managed to get L’Assiette Michelin at the age of 22. This has encouraged me to work harder and aim for the Michelin star for the near future.
See Joe cooking live in the London Halal Food Festival kitchen along with his mum Meryem. Don’t forget to grab your early bird discount tickets now.