Chef Christian Ørner
Name : Christian Ørner
Age : 37
What is your current role : Business owner: SALT Cø. Private Chef and Chocolatier
Where are you from? I am half Norwegian and half English
Qualifications and Certificates : NVQ 1, 2, and 3 Diploma in Professional Catering; Bournemouth and Poole College 2008.
Awards and Accolades :
GOLD: Destination Awards; Best Night Time Experience 2020.
SILVER: New Forest Chef of the Year 2013.
BRONZE: BH Star Awards Best Chef and Best New Business 2019.
Social Media and Web Links :
What is your earliest memory of cooking? What did you cook and for who?
One of the first dishes my mum showed me how to make, was a dish we had as a family as my brother and I were growing up; Tomato Pasta we called it. A simple tomato sauce with tagliatelle pasta. I now, after over 15 years of cooking professionally, feel I can make a technically ‘better’ tomato sauce, however mine never tastes like my mum’s one.
Have you always been a chef? Or did have a change of direction in your career?
I was a late bloomer in realising what I wanted to do. I was 23 when I decided I wanted to be a chef. I wanted to be a fireman, then I wanted to go into the Norwegian Navy as a career (which changed soon after starting my national service in the Norwegian Navy). After national service I had a couple of years out, then stumbled upon wanting to be a chef. I now love it!
If you could cook with ingredients from any country, where would it be and why?
Two versions to this answer! I don’t really know that much about Far Eastern cuisine, so I’d like to learn to cook with Malaysian, Chinese and Japanese ingredients. I like cooking most with Scandinavian and French ingredients, loads of butter, loads of cream. Delicious!
If you could invite any 2 people for dinner, who would it be and what would you talk about?
My best friends. We would talk about food, cooking, travelling and music whilst eating amazing food and drinking amazing wine.
What was the last culinary course / qualification you took and what would you choose next?
My NVQ Level 3 was possibly the last course I did. I teach my own classes so don’t really go to any myself. I also watch a lot of YouTube tutorials if I am looking to learn something. The latest ones have been on pulled sugar.
What is the most funny/ frustrating thing that has happened to you whilst cooking for someone?
I am not sure there’s enough room for all my stories!
Off the top of my head:
- Turning up to a dinner where they had recently upgraded to an induction stove from gas. They were super pleased with it, and excited that they were going to have a chef use it to cook them a tasting menu in their own home! I got there only to realise they hadn’t upgraded their pans, so none of their old pans worked on the new stove. I quickly drove back to my kitchen to get my pans which were induction ones.
- I once did a dinner in a kitchen, where the hob was on an island unit and the extraction fan was next to the hob. When we turned it on we felt a tapping on our legs. The extraction unit was sucking the air in and pushing it out into the cupboard underneath, opening the doors of the cupboard below!
- We turned up to do a dinner for 18 guests somewhere. When we got there we were told they were going through a kitchen refit. There was a tiny 4 ring electric hob and double oven, but the bottom oven didn’t work. We were assured though that the top “oven” worked. It turns out it was a grill! This was something we only found out when we put two trays of food in to cook, but only the top one was cooking!
- My Sous Chef Nico’s ‘favourite’ story: We turned up together to do a New Year’s Eve celebration. The only available cooking equipment was an AGA oven, which when we turned up, was off. For those that don’t know about AGA ovens, they ideally need to be preheated for about 24 hours!
How much of your cooking is “finger tips” and instinct rather than following the recipe?
Savoury cooking is all about technique. There is a technique to cooking a steak/ a fillet of fish/ a piece of broccoli etc. Timings wise, each bit will be different as they aren’t usually the same size. For desserts and pastry, you must follow a recipe, one that is trusted and that we know works. If we don’t put enough eggs in something, it may not rise. If we don’t put enough gelatine in something, it won’t set. Put too much sugar in something it will be too sweet.
What does your typical day with a client involve?
For a Private Dinner I wake up about 9am, go across the road to my butcher and get the meat for the day. I then hop in my car and go to the fish mongers. I normally get the veg and dry ingredients the day before. I then get back to my kitchen to do the prep for the evening’s dinner. When prep is done I have a shower, then put a clean chef jacket on, and hop in my car to go to where the dinner is taking place. I am there to cook, serve and do the washing up. Once everyone has eaten, is happy, we have all had a good laugh and the kitchen is clean, then I head back home with a smile on my face, ready to do it all again the next day. I love my job! In between prep I am answering emails, calls, messages about dinners and chatting to my friends (if I have time), and sending invoices.
How do you spend your time off? What do you enjoy doing?
Music and cooking are my two main hobbies. I’m always cooking and always listening to music. I don’t play any instruments but I love live music. I go to concerts when I can. I love spending time with my friends with a nice drink in my hand. Sailing is my sport, I love the sea. I have sailed since I was 11 and love it. I want to travel more. I have travelled a fair bit already, but there is always more to see.
What advice would you give to a young person entering the industry today?
1) Always work at the best places you can. That way, later in your career you can choose to work anywhere. You will also learn the best way to do things.
2) When you are getting shouted at (not if, when), let it go in one ear, take the productive point out of it and act upon it, then let all the anger part leave out of the other ear. I was told, this is why we all have two ears.
3) You get out of this industry what you put in. To be a success you have to work hard, believe in yourself, put the hours in and then you can reap the benefits. It is all worth it.
What inspired you choose the food and drink / chef industry?
Anthony Bourdain’s book, Kitchen Confidential. It’s my favourite book, out of all the books I have ever read. I have his chef design from their jackets tattooed on my right shoulder. Read the book and it will become clear!
Do you have a favourite cooking or chef quote to share?
“Venez tout ceux qui ont des problemes d’estomac et je vous restaurai la sante“
It was written above the door of the first ever restaurant in Paris. I have it tattooed on my arm as I use it in my Private Cheffing.
It translates to:
“Come to me all of those who have problems with their stomachs and I will restore your health”.
We ask questions suggested by the wonderful community of Chefs and Food / Drink Professionals in the High End Chefs private group on Facebook. The purpose and mission behind ‘Chef Stories’ is to inspire and encourage other Chefs and those with a passion for culinary, to continue confidently into the industry as Private Chefs, Yacht Chefs, Chalet Chef, Restaurant Chefs / Chef’s Table, Catering Businesses and Cooking Schools!
The list isn’t exhaustive… but we’re sure you get the picture!