Tom Cenci is about to kick off a three-month residency at Stoney Street by 26 Grains and he's teaming up with Grass-Fed Irish Beef for the menu. We caught up with him to find out more.
We learned the sad news about the closure of Loyal Tavern a few weeks ago, so it's great to see you back in the kitchen again. How did this residency come about?
I was at a bit of dead-end when we had to close Loyal Tavern, so reached out to a few people, and the amazing Ravneet Gill put me in touch with Stoney Street's Alex Hely-Hutchinson who wanted to give back to people in hospitality who have been affected by the pandemic, by offering her restaurant at night to help support chefs
What kind of approach are you taking for this residency overall?
I wanted to do Alex justice by following her ethos of using sustainable ingredients from across the UK and Ireland which I have also followed for years, so it's a great partnership.
Our sourcing of produce guides the approach to the menu. I wanted to focus on reducing food waste too and try to utilise every element from each ingredient
As part of the residency, you've teamed up with Grass-Fed Irish Beef - how will you be incorporating that?
I have been using Irish beef for over ten years now and it’s produce I’m passionate about. As mentioned, I want to honour the ethos of 26 Grains of using top class sustainable ingredients and for me, that’s what Irish beef embodies.
Irish cattle graze on open pastures for up to 300 days a year. The wet lush green grass is full of clover which really delivers a distinctive sweet grass-fed taste. The farmers truly have the health and welfare of their cattle and landscape at their heart, something which is very important to me.
And what kind of beef dishes can we expect as a result?
I want to champion off-cuts and show how versatile beef can be. There are so many other good cuts away from just the ribs and fillets.
I'm starting the menu with grass-fed Irish onglet which will be seared in cocoa powder. Then we'll move through the whole carcass with a rotating menu of beef-centric dishes week by week, championing different cuts. That includes Irish beef cheek which becomes super tender and melts in the mouth once slow-cooked or feather blade which is great a braising cut especially for this time of year.
How are you approaching food waste/sustainability in particular?
It's a critical issue at the moment and so important we start to address food waste and sustainability. It's something that can't just be fixed overnight, but the more we can all do to help raise awareness the better. Repurposing produce that would have usually been thrown away is a great way to start, like recycling coffee grains or using surplus produce like fruit, vegetables or fish. This also goes hand in hand with nose to tail cooking and using as much of the carcass as possible.
How do you see the residency evolving over the coming months?
I don't want the menu to be stagnant, and I really want it to flow with the coming seasons and be dictated by what the suppliers have to offer. And, of course, I will try to add my playful twists to each dish.
Where the residency? Stoney Street, 2-3 Stoney Street, London SE1 9AA
When? 8 October 2020 for three months. Runs Wednesday to Saturday nights.
How to book: Book online using resy
More about Grass-Fed Irish Beef: For further information about Irish beef and to try some of Tom’s delicious recipes using it visit irishbeef.co.uk/tom-cenci/.
Photos by Ben Broomfield
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