jean-didier gouges

Meet the chef: Jean-Didier Gouges of Park Corner Brasserie

10 Jun 2024 | |By Annie Lewis

From cooking for the Mauritian president to becoming the youngest Le Cordon Bleu chef in his country, there’s no stopping Jean-Didier Gouges. We sit down with the chef as he helms the reopening of Park Corner

Park Lane is crowded with culinary greats and young talent alike. From Tom Booton at The Dorchester and Elliott Grover at Cut at 45 Park Lane to the French Michelin maestro Yannick Alléno at Pavyllon London, the sheer amount of good food to pick from on this starry slice of Mayfair is slightly overwhelming. 

And like all culinary corners in the capital – from Shoreditch to Soho – Park Lane will see a clutch of exciting new openings this year. One of the most recent refurbishments to have on your radar comes courtesy of the five-star London Hilton on Park Lane, which recently relaunched the Park Corner Brasserie as part of its multi-million-pound refurbishment. Helmed by head chef Jean-Didier Gouges, formerly of The Petersham, Como and St Pancras hotels, the revamped space has a quintessentially English feel, reflecting its proximity to Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace, and promises relaxed, traditional luxury. 

Born in Mauritius, Gouges says he always felt a culinary calling. He left school at 17 to join the Indian Ocean island nation’s most prestigious catering company and, by the time he was 18, was the private chef to the Mauritian president. A year later, he became the youngest Le Cordon Bleu chef in the country and moved to France to hone his skills. Since then, the world has been his oyster, with top positions at five-star hotels across the capital on his CV and now leading his own team at the London Hilton on Park Lane. Here, you can expect fine British produce transformed into classic dishes, from slow-cooked South Downs pork belly with celeriac slaw to Cornish Dover sole with ratte potatoes. 

jean didier gouges

As the hotel emerges from its refurbishment – and celebrates its 60th year on Park Lane – we go inside to meet Gouges and discuss his career so far, his biggest inspirations and his hopes for the future. 

Tell me about your childhood in Mauritius. Did you always want to be a chef?

Mauritius is definitely where my curiosity about food developed. Most of the food there is Creole and includes garlic and thyme – growing up on strong flavours began to make me wonder how different combinations could develop. I definitely always wanted to be a chef; I was a very early starter.

Cooking for the Mauritian president as a teenager is no mean feat. How did that feel?

It was both terrifying and exciting. I learned a lot and knew that this would be my path.

park corner brasserie
What encouraged you to come to London and work in restaurants here? What do you like most about London’s food scene?

I’m sure it’s said all the time, but there really is always something new, even if it’s bringing back something old and reviving it! New food trends are constant in London and the media really get people excited about trying new things. I love being part of it.

You’ve trained in all types of culinary styles, from Pan-Asian to French, and British to Mediterranean. Which one is your favourite and why?

Right now, I’m working with a British menu and I’m consistently pleased with our results. Park Corner Brasserie opened as a completely new venture and I’m loving devoting my time to British cuisine.

What drew you to Park Corner Brasserie?

London Hilton on Park Lane is a staple of the city; to create a new menu in a restaurant that was built in conjunction with the hotel’s 60th year [is] an incredible opportunity. As the first Hilton to open in the UK, so much has happened with incredible figures here, and the prospect of delivering new offerings has become an exciting and always evolving challenge. It’s like working with history to decide how the future tastes…

What influences your menus?

The quintessential English experience – both adhering to and reevaluating what that means. Park Corner Brasserie is just across the street from Hyde Park; the pairing of such an iconic station with my ideas for our menus is a constant source of inspiration for what we do.

Are there any other London chefs you're impressed with at the moment?

Michel Roux, always. A hugely inspiring man with a career that continues to surprise. I’m always interested in what he’s going to do next.

park corner brasserie
What's your favourite dish on the menu?

I can never answer this question! Everything I create feels like a signature dish. Although we have just launched a Sunday roast menu for spring, which has been a huge hit with our visitors. It’s been a joy.


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