Tattu’s executive chef Clifton Muil, originally from South Africa where he trained under one of the country’s most acclaimed chefs Richard Carsons, has been cooking professionally for over 17 years. He left South Africa at the age of 21 to move to London, working in several prestigious Asian restaurants across the capital including Eight Over Eight, Buddah Bar and Novikov during his career. Clifton moved to the north of England in 2015 to take the role as head chef of Tattu Manchester. He is now executive chef of both Tattu restaurants in Leeds and Manchester.
How and when did you start in the industry?
My first introduction to the industry was joining the international hotel school in Durban, South Africa, where I did a three-year course.
How would you describe your style of cooking and who or what is your biggest influence?
My cooking style is either modern or contemporary Asian food. I love taking the very best ingredients and using traditional methods and flavour and giving it a modern or unique twist.
At the moment, I would say my influence is showcasing the very best of what Asian food can provide and the diversity not seen by many and bringing that onto a plate for our customers to experience.
FAVOURITE THING TO COOK?
My favourite thing to cook right now would have to be a perfect roast dinner - a leg of lamb is always a winner with the family.
What is your favourite food to have cooked for you?
For me right now, I would say something off the robata Japanese style BBQ. I love it, it has bags of flavour and is a fun way of cooking.
What are the most common mistakes that people make when cooking Asian food?
I would say people tend to over complicate things and do too much which confuses the palate. The ingredients need to speak for themselves, so keeping it simple and tasty is key.
What are the biggest trends you have seen during your time in the food industry?
Without a doubt the biggest trend I have seen in my time is the introduction of pan Asian restaurants and the family style of eating; sharing food has come to the dinner table, and I think it’s a fantastic way of eating – it makes for a more relaxed and fun dining experience.
What are your top five ingredients when cooking Asian food?
Yuzu, soy, togarashi, wagyu, kazamu, wasabi.
If you could cook for anyone in the world, alive or dead, who would it be and what would you make them?
I would have loved to cook for the late Charlie Trotter. He was an amazing chef and far ahead of his time. I would cook him a crispy pork belly with Chinese black vinegar, chicken truffle sui mai followed by beef fillet with caramel soy, and honey roasted Chilean sea bass. I’m sure he would love it!
What’s the one kitchen gadget you couldn’t live without?
I think a good old fashion grill is one thing I could not live without in my kitchen.
Which restaurant do you most enjoy eating at on your night off?
To be honest I enjoy eating at all types of restaurants and trying new places, but I would have to say my go to restaurant would be a pan Asian restaurant. It has everything I love about food all under one roof!
In your view, what are the biggest trends coming up?
I think the biggest up and coming trend would have to be South American or Peruvian food. Both are already making their way into the industry, and are very versatile and incorporate many cooking methods, ingredients and styles.