Since it opened in 2014 this eatery has fast gained a stellar reputation to match its celebrity associations. Its talented head chef talks about his inspiration and shares a favourite recipe.
California native Ben Small is the executive chef at CUT and CUT Lounge by Wolfgang Puck where his motto is “There are no problems, only solutions”.
He’s been at CUT, at Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay, since 2014, having previously worked with celebrity chef Wolfgang at the iconic Spago Beverly Hills, the restaurant that started Puck’s journey to culinary superstardom, as well as at The Source in Washington DC.
Chef Ben always knew cooking was his destiny. He says: “My interest in cooking started at a young age, maybe six or seven. I was standing on a stool with my Nonni making apple pie. That’s when I started being intrigued by food, and that passion has continued to grow as my knowledge of food has evolved.”
Of the decision to make Bahrain his home, he explains: “The chance to be part of this fantastic project was what opened the door for me in Bahrain. One of the biggest benefits is immersing myself in a new culture and broadening myself professionally and personally. The ability to travel and see new places and interact with people from all over the world really excites me.”
Of his success so far, chef Ben says: “Consistently maintaining a high level of quality is the key to any culinary operation, and the quality of product the team is capable of putting together is awe-inspiring.”
He dedicates time to perfecting his skill, believing cooking is a personal journey, not just a professional career. “I love asking people about foods their parents or grandparents cooked while they were growing up, and what food invokes the memory of home or their childhood,” he explains. “Those are the dishes I want to learn how to make because I enjoy connecting with people on this level.”
And describing his passion for the kitchen, he concludes: “It is an ever-changing field filled with vast possibilities and the ability to constantly learn and grow.”
STEAK AU POIVRE
– 150g fillet mignon (centre barrel cut, butterfly, tie)
– 1 garlic clove, smashed
– 1 thyme sprig
– Butter as needed
Season the fillet with sea salt. Lightly oil one side then crust in coarsely cracked black pepper. Heat a sauté pan and add olive oil. When smoking, add the filet pepper-side down. Cook until crust forms and then add butter and smashed garlic. Cook and baste in foaming butter, until just below desired internal temperature. Flip, remove and allow to rest in order for the juices to redistribute.
– 3g shallots, chopped fine
– 2g garlic, chopped fine
– 4g Dijon mustard, smooth
– 7g green peppercorns in brine
– 2ml apple cider vinegar or vinegar of your choice
– 15g dried currants or raisins, soaked in warm water
– 5ml heavy cream
– Salt and black pepper to taste
In the same pan, sweat garlic and shallots. Add Dijon mustard and fresh butter and cook for 30 seconds. Deglaze pan with apple cider vinegar. Reduce liquid by half and add green peppercorns, brine and currants or raisins, then heavy cream. Reduce again; add resting juices, season with salt and pepper and garnish with remaining green peppercorns.