Paul Maders, 52, is the chef behind the fantastic menu at Cheval Blanc, the new wine bar opening in Moseley. Here, as part of my link-up with the project, he tells of his excitement about the venture.
I started working for the Humble Pub Company – which also owns the Dark Horse, British Oak and Prince of Wales – in the September of 2015 after a conversation with Keith Marsden, who was at the time on vacation in Austria and had found my CV online. I upped sticks from Shropshire and relocated to Brum.
Since then, we have been working hard to create establishments where the food and drinks offerings are the best, combined with a great atmosphere that give our guests a total experience that they don’t forget easily.
Before moving to Birmingham I had a career that had been embedded in the world of fine dining.
I was lucky that my first job was with a very good fresh food company which was great but my appetite from day one was wetted for the high end and Gary Rhodes had opened Watersreach in Manchester and it was the best place in Manchester at the time, holding one of the few Michelin Bib Gourmands, so I started there as a demi-chef de partie. It was a daunting prospect as everyone else was from a starred or rosette background. But the one thing that it gave me was that you never drop your standards – ever.
There were a few jobs in-between that were all rosette standard, until eventually I ended up working with Aiden Byrne when he opened his first solo venture at the Church Green, Lymm. I have never regarded myself as a pastry chef but ended up there as head pastry chef when we got three rosettes and restaurant of the year
I then went to work at the newly opened Abode Hotel in Manchester as head chef for Michael Caines MBE. This was my first proper head chef role and the experience there has lead on to bigger and better things
I moved to Shrewsbury to take over as executive chef at the Lion Hotel, taking that to two rosettes and the highest Michelin ranking in the area. From there I went to a small inn/restaurant out in the Shropshire countryside, again achieving two rosettes.
Cheval Blanc is something new and creative. The concept of the small wine bar is something like the traditional pub, a disappearing joy from the high street.
The great thing about the Humble Pub is that we’re all about the new but always looking over our shoulders at what has gone before, what people enjoy, the whole experience of going out for a great night out and what we can give back to a community.
Cheval Blanc is a breath of fresh air to the city. The wines are all hand-picked, not by a committee but by people passionate about wines. The food uses the best produce and are presented so that you can enjoy your wine, nibbling at small plates while enjoying good conversation and ambiance.
The range of venues that we now have in our portfolio are as diverse as our staff and our customers. Each venue has its appeal to everyone.
The food on offer will match the quality of the wines. Each should complement the other perfectly – whether it’s the quality of the bread or a perfectly poached lobster, the one thing that the customer can rely is that it will be done with passion and care.