Chef Spotlight: Executive Chef Steve Mangelshot of WAGAMAMA
Steven Mangleshot is always on the hunt for something 'cool.' Whether he's talking about vegan ingredients like seitan or discovering a little-known fish that could be cooked up Vietnamese style, the executive chef uses the word frequently to describe the ideas he's most excited about.
While Mangleshot has put in time catering for well-heeled spectators at Ascot and demanding singing stars at V Festival, it's at Wagamama where he's spent the better part of his career. When he first joined the group as a head chef, there were just five locations in the portfolio. Now there are 180, spread across 23 countries, from America to the Middle East. And Mangleshot has grown with the company. In 17 years he's gone from running the kitchen in a single branch to overseeing the 3,000 chefs that work for the modern Asian chain.
Aside from jet setting around the world to tweak menus - particularly in the brand's American outlets - and find new inspiration for the future, he spends most of his time in the new Noodle Lab. Opened last October, the site on Dean Street is where Wagamama has been trialling fresh ideas on willing customer guinea pigs, a concept that's gaining traction, with both Wahaca and Bill's following suit.
The 'test kitchen' format is just the latest example of why it pays to keep an eye on Wagamama, especially with a new Noodle Lab menu scheduled to appear in April, as well as a wider brand launch set to roll out in May.
Broadwayworld.com had the pleasure of interviewing Executive Chef Steve Mangelshot for our "Chef Spotlight."
What was your earliest interest in cooking?
I remember being 12-years-old, helping my mum cook and I wanted to prove that I could make Shepard's pie better than her. It was a disaster! My family kindly smiled and moved their food around their plates the entire meal. I knew I could do better than this. It sparked my interest.
Who were some of your career mentors?
I must say my main inspiration is my family, who continue to be my biggest fans, yet my biggest critics. I have been fortunate to work with some very talented chefs in my career, a number of them being from wagamama. But I have taken inspiration from work created by the likes of; Jason Atherton, Marcus Wareing.
What culinary styles have influenced your career?
As a young chef growing up doing French cuisine taught me the disciplines of cooking. I was heavily influenced by Asian cuisines and their street food practices, as I felt that it had a rustic approach to its cooking style.
What do you consider the most distinguishing features of your work as a chef?
Our Chili squid dish is one of my most unique and top sellers within our sides. It uses a Pineapple cut, which gives it a unique finish, ensuring the squid is coated lightly and crispy in a light batter and ensures the squid remains the hero of the dish.
What is your favorite meal?
I really struggle to choose here; the short rib ramen is one of them- it's warming and comforting, and the short rib just falls of the bone. The second, is the Hot Katsu. It's a limited-edition dish here at Murray Hill. It's about a 6 on a spice scale of 1-10 and it really packs a punch. I created this off the back of our iconic Katsu curry, which is sold 3.5 million times a year in the UK.
Tell me a little bit about your restaurant for our readers.
We're delighted to be joining the neighborhood of Murray Hill and we're excited that the food scene of Murray Hill is beginning to expand. We believe in eating informally, on long communal benches. Our dishes are inspired from my travels around Asia and I have created Asian fusion recipes that I believe the people of Murray Hill will love!
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Steve Mangelshot and wagamama