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Malcolm John: Local Chef

Kate Miranda meets Malcolm John, chef of Le Vacherin in Chiswick, well worth the trip

KM: What is your speciality?

MJ: Baked Vacherin with black truffle and almond crust, served with new potatoes and pickles.

What is particularly special about Le Vacherin?

The Chiswick restaurant feels as though you are somewhere in the French countryside as we overlook Acton Green Common and of course the service is always friendly. The design is quite classic along with the food as I like to keep Vacherin true to its roots since we opened in 2004. I don’t really follow cooking trends and that is why we have maintained and grown our market share. We are celebrating our tenth anniversary this month. We will be hosting several dinners throughout the year, from Champagne and Sabrage dinner to Truffle and Carnivore. Our other brasseries in the south (Sutton and Croydon) will host similar events.

How do the Sutton and Chiswick restaurants differ?

Sutton is your classic brasserie. We have high footfall as we are close to the station so it is always bustling. We are open long hours (from 8am until 11pm) and serve breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. Chiswick is more gentile with a more diverse wine list with individual table service, including carving and filleting at the table, and our fantastic cheese boards.

What is the best compliment you have received?

I once had a couple who came over from Paris just try my Cassoulet. They said it was worth the journey! We sat and drank Madiran all afternoon and I send them my Cassoulet every Christmas.

What is your favourite food to eat?

I love Italian food, loads of fish and salad.

Where do you source your produce from?

I source lobsters, Dover sole, monkfish, mackerel and skate from Cornwall. Our beef is all Aberdeen Angus 28 day aged and the poultry comes in from France. But what is really exiting is I work with Sutton Community Farm, which supplies all three restaurants with salads, tomatoes and edible flowers - you name it they grow it. I host an annual dinner using everything from the farm and surrounding areas, including goats curd from Caterham, honey from Sutton, and lamb from the South Downs.

What is the most unusual dish you have ever cooked?

Stuffed duck neck. It is basically a duck sausage but I use the neck as the casing and stuff with herbs, the leg and offal. It takes a whole week to prepare but once it is done the dish is absolutely fantastic. I serve with red cabbage and Dauphinoise potatoes.

Who would you most like to cook for, why and what would you cook them?

My parents are the people I would have most liked to cook for. Sadly, they both passed away in 2004 just before I opened Le Vacherin. I came from St Vincent at the age of four and from the age of 13 I knew wanted to be a chef and have my own restaurant.  So it’s a shame they were both not around to see my achievements and have dinner with me.

What are your plans for the future?

I intend to open more brassieres and an outside catering company. And with the great news that Westfield is coming to Croydon, I’ll make sure that I get my foot in the door.

Malcolm John