Djamel Cheurfa | CHEF – FOOD STYLIST – OWNER AT : LA CREPE DES DELICES – TRUCKS DESIGN Richmond, Greater London
Djamel Cheurfa is an all-rounder. He can tell us a lot about the best crepes in the world. Please read on now.
You are a French chef who moved to Richmond (UK) from your hometown of Lyon (France), where you run your own business today. Tell us the story of the start of your career as a chef. What will you never forget about your first year as chef?
That I had to work very hard to be able to follow the team.
What is the best part of being a chef?
The feeling of pride when people eat delicious and amazing food that I cook.
And what is the hardest part of the chef job?
The many long hours.
Growing up in the gastronomic capital of France, you have always enjoyed eating and cooking delicious food. Why did you leave this great culinary city of Lyon?
It’s always good to give yourself new targets and new adventures. London was for me was a competitive city with lots of opportunity.
You recently brought your business La crepe des delices to England. Tell us about this concept?
La Crepe Des Délices is a street food catering company started in 2012, it’s now running perfectly and this is why have got more free time to work on new projects. I’m now a Chef stylist and food stylist I also do some cooking videos and create new menus for restaurants.
Why have you restricted yourself to Crepes?
I haven’t, crepes were an easy way to start and make money in London. It’s now running well and gives me lots of free time to do amazing things.
What is the secret of a good Crepe?
A good crepe needs lots of ingredients, many people think that it’s only flour and milk, but there are many ingredients to create the best crepes. You also need the right tools and a very, very hot crepe maker. The crepes need to be crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle.
What sorts of creps do you offer?
I offer all sorts of crepes, sweet and savoury crepes, the savoury crepes are made with buckwheat flour from France which is Gluten free. When the crepe maker is very hot it creates lots of small holes in the crepes, then once you add cheese it melts through the crepes and gets crispy on the outside. For the sweet crepes we have many tasty options such as chocolate coconut, and banana or roasted apple and home made salted caramel.
How was your start into the food truck business, what was the hardest part?
The hardest thing for me was to find a good place as a location as it is very important. After scouting many locations, I found a first good spot but also got many contacts for big music festival, market, corporate events, weddings etc.
Where can you be found with your food truck, just at functions or also on daily occasions?
Functions but also the first Sunday of the month in Kew village market, my colleague also trades at Bishops market in Fulham and many local events at Kew garden and Richmond.
Can you share your signature dish with us?
My signature dish is beef bourguignon, which for me is the best dish you can try, it’s slow cook beef, cooked with some vegetables and red wine. You first need to sear the beef then add some onion, garlic and herbs or a bouquet garnie. You then add the red wine and let the alcohol steam away. Once the alcohol is gone you can close your pot and let this cook for 1.5 hours on the stove very slowly and then 1 hour in the oven at 160 degrees.
Can you share your very last creation with us?
Im creating food everyday, new recipes available on my Instagram : Djamel_foodie. Almost 200 recipes a year so it’s very difficult to let you know about the last one as everyday has a new recipe. My last one so far that as been shared by many Instagram pages such as Chefs plate-forme or chefs talk is a grilled seabass with ravioli, grilled prawns and home-made veloute.
What are some of the lesser known spices and vegetables you use?
Has El Henout is for me one of the best spices!! it’s not very well known but it’s a North African spice ( which is my background ) it’s made out of 18 deferents spices and it’s just so unique.
Which unique cooking technique have you mastered?
I would say that it is easy for me to cook with pretty much anything. I just need to open the fridge and can easily make something with what is in there. I have a lot of inspiration and from my school days I’ve always been good at art, drawing or writing stories because it is easy for me to produce anything from nothing.
Have you ever thought about a global road trip with your food truck?
I think this could be a great idea and a good TV show! haha
If you would have the time to come up with a culinary book, what would it be about?
It would be about food the way chefs learn and create recipes. Something that has not been seen before yet. Everything is all about recipes, recipes, recipes but not about where they come from and how chefs create them and the thinking behind them, how chefs learn about recipes and why they make good recipes. There is a way to learn things and learning in a kitchen is always the best way after learning from your mother or family.
Lots of cooks are interested to work in the food truck business. Do you have any tips/ recommendations for them?
Yes I have got lots actually. I have built an online exchange which is in progress. It is not easy to start as a street food vendor, I would say it’s as hard as starting as a chef as its a new world where every little step is very important. It’s not only about being a good chef but it’s about knowing everything such as creating a small menu, finding good local produce and suppliers and its very different from a restaurant.
It’s also very important to build a brand that can be remembered by your customers. In a restaurant you don’t always face the customers and chefs can be grumpy when they are busy, in the street food industries you have to deal with customers all the time, every time you serve someone you have to deal with them and good customer service is very important, something that chefs are not used to. There are so many others things about it and if it’s done properly there is very big money to make.
What did we forget to ask you about being a chef, your work. that you want to address?
I think where my love for cooking comes from, and to answer, that would be my mother. She always cooked amazing food and I have always been inspired by her. My dad didn’t like cooking, for him it was all about women being in the kitchen, but I couldn’t stop myself from hiding in the kitchen to learn from my mother.
I think that it’s important to know where chefs got there love for food. Some were inspired by other chefs, some from family, some others have watched a movie or just love eating good food and you even have some chefs who have zero experience and start as a chef and discover something they like.
Thank you a lot Djamel!
Djamel´s culinary journey is impressive! Where have you been? Where do you want to go?
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