Flash-grilled: Dean Parker

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Dean Parker chef-patron at Celentano’s restaurant in Glasgow

Related tags Dean Parker Celentano’s Glasgow Restaurant Fine dining

The chef-patron at Celentano’s in Glasgow on his admiration for Rene Redzepi, an obsession with bread, and nearly missing his annual holiday.

What was your first industry job?
I was a waiter in a café restaurant in my hometown Pietermaritzburg in South Africa. I was awful at it. My first job in London as a cook was in an American restaurant in Bayswater called Harlem. I worked with these two female Irish chefs - they were my role models.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
I was going to study architecture so possibly that if I had stuck it out. I used to draw plans for extensions and swimming pools as a side line hustle when I was studying business marketing.

What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
Rene Redzepi. The guy’s an absolute rock star - a sheer innovator from his ideas to how he inspired so many chefs from trash cooking to only using local ingredients and getting the most out of them. The ways in which he’s used fermentation and linked food to culture is amazing. I met him once when cooking at The Dairy - he's a true legend.

What’s your pet hate in the kitchen?
Lateness and lack of communication but also chefs packing things away without getting tasted.

Sum up your cooking style in a single sentence
Strong flavours, sustainably sourced and nothing getting wasted.

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
I very much appreciate when customers give feedback at the time of eating, but I tend not to read bad reviews as it saddens me.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Go to the best restaurant and do stages until they give you a job. You’re going to have to get your hands dirty and persevere - as if you’ve got to prove someone wrong to get anywhere.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
A thermometer.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
I'd have a BBQ in the sun with family, white wine, good bread and butter, fish and vegetables and finished with ice cream

À la carte or tasting menu?
Depends on the occasion but I mostly prefer more casual dining settings, so probably a la carte

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had in a restaurant?
In contrast to the last answer, The Dairy’s tasting menu. Amazing cooking in a casual fun atmosphere. Although it also has a lot to do with nostalgia.

What’s your favourite fast-food joint?
Leon. I like its grilled chicken aioli wrap.

What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Fried chicken and also noodles.

MasterChef or Great British Menu?
Great British Menu

What’s the most overrated food?
It may be controversial but McDonald's.

You are restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
People going gluten free for preference rather than allergy.

Who would your dream dinner party guests be?
Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and Sandor Katz (author of The Art of fermentation).

What’s your earliest food memory?
Toasted cheese sandwiches at my gran’s or licking the bowl from making brownies.

Twitter or Instagram?
The ‘gram.

What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
When I had to tell my wife that my passport expired and only realised two days before going on our only holiday for the year. I didn’t leave the passport office until they agreed to see me. We made it on the holiday.

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
Kitesurfing in Troon, Scotland

What’s your tipple of choice?

What’s your favourite food and drink pairing?
Affogato and vodka milk.

What do you consider to be your signature dish?
My bread recipe. It’s evolved and been tweaked every new opening, it’s something I’ve been obsessed with for years.

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