Steak-ing their reputation with the Montague Legend

When it comes to serving up the perfect steak, you don’t get much better than the amazing breeds, cuts and styles of beef available on an extensive meat menu.

London’s Finest

JW Steakhouse opened at Grosvenor House two-and a- half years ago with Chef Paul Hallett at the helm. Counting working under chef Tom Aikens at London’s acclaimed Dorchester Grill amongst his experience and with an extensive interest in butchery, joining JW Steakhouse was a great move for Paul.

“I come from quite a rural area, close to a farming background,” said Welsh born Paul. “But when I started working in restaurants meat was where I found my strongest point and where I liked working. Through the last six or seven years, especially working at the Dorchester, I did all the butchery and worked the meat section and it developed for me from there. This job is perfect as I come into contact with a lot of meat. Last year we got through 13 metric tonnes of meat alone from America; 17 to 18 metric tonnes if you include Aberdeen Angus beef too.”

The restaurant is the flagship of the Marriott brand. Paul developed the concept alongside Nigel Boschetti, Grosvenor House executive chef and the authentic American grill experience has now been recreated in Marriott Hotels across the world.

“We have a pretty simple ethos. It revolves around great quality meat and using the right products,”

- said Paul
head chef

“When developing the menu I worked in restaurants in London for free and I got inspiration from everywhere. We try to push quite strongly the American theme of it so I constantly look at American restaurants and through American cookbooks to get glimpses of what’s going on and we regularly visit America as well.”

Recipe for success

Paul says the key to a good steak is sourcing the right animal and investing in the right oven or grill to cook it in.

 “A good steak revolves around sourcing the right animals, having providence, rare breeds and pure breeds,” explained Paul. “We constantly look at our beef and we constantly test it and look for new breeds. We are very stringent about what we use and we will test five, six or seven different breeds until we find what meets our high standards.

 “The broiler is also key as the oven has to cook it properly. The broiler seals the meat, closing in all the sugar to caramelize in the muscle for a lovely crust, which is where the flavour comes from, and it seals in a lot of moisture as well to keep it juicy and tender.”

Paul buys a lot of meat from the United States and has built up a good relationship with a farm in Kansas called Creak Stone Farm, which he claims is one of the best in the US.

In the UK he sources meat from a butcher he has used for more than a decade, as well as directly from a town in Scotland, which is the home of Aberdeen Angus beef. Additional, ‘novelty’ beef is sourced from other suppliers, butchers and directly from farms for steak that will come on and off the menu.

“If the beef is hung well and nicely aged and we then cook it well to a nice temperature and then leave it to rest, then we will be serving up a tasty dish,” said Paul. “There is an old rule of thumb that however long you cook steak for, you rest it for that same amount of time. It’s not an exact science but it’s a good measure.

“Our favourite steaks are the Aberdeen Angus Rib Eye, the New York Strip and we have a lot of big steaks too, upwards of 1.5 kilos. People come here just for our 32oz ‘Tomahawk’ Rib Eye served on the bone.”

Amazing Montage

“It helps having a very fast broiler,” said Paul. “There are only so many steaks of those sizes that we can put on the broiler. We have a busy restaurant and we have three Montagues – one double deck and one single deck with a flat plate on top for searing rare and blue steaks.

JW Steakhouse

“The Montague is the best thing you are going to find for cooking a steak.”

“The Montagues are a brilliant piece of equipment because they are not too complicated and have no overcomplicated buttons. It’s a very simple piece of kit but a very, very effective one and it works like an oven, grill and char grill all at once. It has to be straightforward to use as otherwise it gets complicated during a busy service.

“It’s also a pretty flexible piece of kit. We use it solely for meat but you can use it for grilling fish and other things as well.”

Paul said he looked at a lot of chargrills, wood burning ovens and Jospers before deciding on the Montague Legend. When visiting restaurants in the States he would ask to look in the kitchens after a meal to see what was used to cook their steak. And it was here that he came across the Montague Legend broiler at a few very reputable steak houses.

“It seemed to be the right equipment for us,”

- Said Paul

“We discovered that Palm restaurant in London was using it as well and they said it was generally a really good piece of kit.

“You can use gas burning char grills, wood burning char grills and wood burning ovens to cook steaks on slates but overall the broiler works. It burns better than all of them. A wood fired or gas fired oven like a pizza oven can get nearly as hot as the broiler but it’s not as user friendly and you can’t use it in the same way. The steaks we use are marbled and prime and if we use a char grill they might burn a lot as there is a lot of fat dripping on them. You want smoke, but not too much.

The heat is on Broilers hit temperatures of 650 degrees, which compares extremely favourably against a conventional oven, which generally reaches only 230 degrees.

Steak

“It’s very hot,” said Paul. “You are cooking two to three times faster which you need in order to seal the meat very quickly. We are not looking for bar marks and diamond shapes on the meat. We want it to caramelize quickly. You don’t put salt and pepper on as the pepper would burn. Instead you cook it perfectly, rest it and then add a little bit of seasoning. The second you put a steak inside the Montague it instantly starts to crackle.

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