LONDON'S Hotel Inter-Continental on Hyde Park Corner is celebrating a joint silver anniversary: its 25th year of business and a quarter of a century under the culinary leadership of Peter Kromberg, its executive chef.
German-born Kromberg, who is still at the stove every day, joined the Inter-Continental group in the mid-1960s and joined the hotel on its launch in 1975. Postings before this included Bangkok and London's Portman hotel.
Accounting for his length of time at Hyde Park, he said: "From the beginning, I've never felt that I was just a name. And after so many years, I've moulded the kitchen to suit my standards so that I don't need to be at the stove 16 hours a day, and that's a good part of why I've remained."
Over the years Kromberg has seen, and responded to, a shift in eating trends in the UK. "People are aiming for lighter meals. Customers have moved away from meat, and fish is our best seller. There is also a move towards Mediterranean cuisine," he said.
Kromberg has responded at the Hotel Inter-Continental's Le Soufflé restaurant by reducing butter in his dishes - "I'm in the olive oil stream" - and introducing vegetarian options to all the restaurant menus. In addition, a £40 five-course organic menu has been available since July 1999.
Recent organic menus have included lobster tortellini with roast garlic-scented squid and cappuccino of basil; Päre Jacques salmon and scallops on paella rice with roast asparagus and red pepper jus; and pressed roast vegetable terrine with shiitake mushrooms and tomato vinaigrette.
The influence of non-European cuisines, Kromberg predicted, would continue to play an important part in UK cuisine in the next decade, spearheaded by fusion experts such as New Zealand chef Peter Gordon(formerly of the Sugar Club).
Kromberg, an International Culinary Olympics gold medallist and former Catey winner, also thinks that brigade structures will change. "Main tasks will be done by chef de partie or sous chefs, and the rest of the work will be carried out by semi-skilled staff. Commis chefs won't exist in the same way," he forecast.