Our Executive Chef, Owen Sullivan is a very busy man!
When he’s not hard at it preparing and overseeing operations in our state-of-the art kitchen, to make sure the food that reaches your doorstep matches the Michelin starred restaurant standards to which he is accustomed, Owen can be found creating new dishes to add to the Noble House Prepared repertoire.
We managed to sit him down for five minutes to tell us a bit more about his background and his aspirations for Noble House Prepared.
Tell me your thoughts on Noble House Prepared. What makes it stand out from the home-delivery crowd?
The quality of the food is second to none. My background of working in a Michelin starred restaurant setting and the standard of cooking that I’m known for is what really makes Noble House Prepared stand out. These are dishes genuinely prepared by a professional chef, with a commitment to best in class ingredients, provenance and of course, the delivery of an unrivalled taste experience.
We know it's restaurant quality, but how would you describe the style of food?
Elevated classic. I have taken inspiration from many different styles of cooking and restaurant concepts that I’ve worked with, from Asian to Classical. I have adapted recipes so, for example, our Mornay contains two different types of mustard to give it a point of difference but remaining true to the original concept, essentially giving it a modern twist.
Quality and seasonality of ingredients is clearly key. Where do you source? Any local suppliers?
We are a national brand so we can’t always promise ‘local suppliers’ to our customers but what we are 100% committed to is sourcing the very best ingredients almost exclusively from within the UK. Our meat is only sourced from farms who have adopted sustainable practices and who can demonstrate a genuine dedication to the highest standards of animal welfare. All fish is sourced wherever possible from local day boat fishing businesses operating out of UK ports, again with a focus on sustainability. We select British grown fruit and vegetables, sourced from local farms predominantly located in Kent, Essex and Bedfordshire.
You’ve recently launched ‘Christmas in a Box’; what were the key challenges that you faced in developing this collection?
The cool thing about our Christmas collection is that I’ve tried to cook everything up to the point that it doesn’t lose its freshness while making sure that the final preparations are super speedy; you can actually cook our full Christmas lunch in around 40-50mins! Potatoes are confit’d in olive oil, garlic and herbs and the turkey is slow butter poached so just ready to pop into the oven for re-roasting, delivering a super moist, perfect finish. Our parsnips and carrots are glazed in a special festive spice mix. And of course, we’ve put together a complete menu for lovers of traditional turkey, those who prefer beef on the big day as well as a fantastic spread for vegetarians and another complete menu for those who prefer to follow a completely plant-based diet. Our customers can opt for a range of packages from a very generous main course to a spread which represents the complete works including dessert. I could go on but go to the Christmas selection on the website for full details of the delicious menus on offer, you won’t be disappointed!
Take us back to the beginning: did you grow up in a foodie house? Tell us about some of your formative memories of food and/or cooking.
My dad was actually a chef at Harrods, we moved to the Isle of Wight when I was six where my dad opened his own fish restaurant, called Sullivan’s. From an early age I can remember going into my dad’s kitchen and cooking crème brulees with him and preparing fresh lobster / crab from a local fishery. When I finished school there would still be people in the dining area of Sullivan’s, enjoying the convivial atmosphere. As a family we’d all enjoy our meals in the restaurant so that setting is very familiar to me.
When did you discover your culinary talent and where did you train?
I actually did a year of training as an engineer but hated it! I then worked in a yacht club washing up, and as I took on more responsibility so my interest in the culinary trade developed. A contact at the yacht club knew someone at the Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge, London and I ended up doing an apprenticeship there, working with their Executive Chef, David Nicholls. The rest, as they say, is history!
What was your first experience of a pro kitchen like? Was it the proverbial 'baptism of fire'?
Due to my upbringing, I was quite familiar with kitchens and the whole restaurant way of life. However, when I started working in the field, I went straight into the fine dining restaurant, Foliage, at the Mandarin Oriental. Cooking at that level you don’t pick up any bad habits, it is a super disciplined environment to work in. I personally worked very closely with Head Chef, Hywel Jones, a super talented chef. He had so much knowledge and expertise to share.
You worked with Gordon Ramsay for a long time. Happy memories?
Yes! 10 years is a long time to spend with anyone. I was lucky, I got to travel a lot, got to do lots of exciting openings both in the UK and overseas. I was involved in so many exciting cooking events and collaborations with other countries including the US, Asia and Emirates. Very happy times.
Of all the top-level restaurants where you've been executive chef - including Ramsay's Maze, Maze Grill, Savoy Grill. . . - does one stand out?
I spent a lot of time at Maze, but each restaurant has its own unique set of special attractions. For example, the Savoy Grill exudes glamour and drama, its flamboyant style is like taking a step back in time. The Maze (now the Lucky Cat) is a totally different vibe, known for its hustle and bustle. At Maze we would have to work so incredibly fast to accommodate the 5-6 plates of food that each diner might choose so the speed of service was phenomenal and the atmosphere in the kitchen was charged with adrenaline.
We hear you managed the menu for Elton John's Oscars Viewing Party in LA? What was on that menu? And which A-listers were enjoying it?
I can’t remember precisely what food we prepared but I do recall it was a classic beef dish. We were catering for 1000 guests, so it was very full on. Elton John played the piano live to his guests and yes, there were loads of A-listers, but my lips are sealed as to who they all were!
What has the festive season got in store for you? Will you be at the stove on Christmas Day? Or is someone else doing the cooking for a change?
Absolutely not, I will be tucking into one of our own Christmas boxes, guaranteed amazing food and flavours but without any of the traditional hassle!
As the mastermind behind the menus, can you summarise the benefits of Noble House Prepared?
We’ve poured significant time and effort into ensuring our dishes are as close to a restaurant experience as you can possibly achieve. Noble House Prepared is a really convenient, simple way to enjoy fine food without having to leave the house. We cater for a wide range of dietary requirements and unlike other prepared food brands, we can deliver the full restaurant dining menu, mains, sides, desserts, children’s dishes, wine – we even have a great selection of responsibly sourced coffee too. By freezing the dishes, we can guarantee the freshest, safest food packed full of flavour and goodness – and of course, you can choose to either eat the same day or store in the freezer to enjoy at your convenience. Although throwing a dinner party is obviously difficult given the current restrictions, when these are lifted, we believe that Noble House Prepared dishes will become the go-to for those who like to entertain, but perhaps don’t have the time – or inclination – to do all the cooking themselves.