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Charlotte Davies chats with Ahmed Abdalla: Head chef at Legacy

Ahmed is the passionate and extremely talented head chef at Legacy, an intimate fine dining restaurant situated in York’s only five-star hotel: The Grand. Legacy offers a modern, Yorkshire eight-course menu alongside exceptional wine pairings.

What chefs do you most admire and why?

I worked with Hywel Jones at Lucknam Park. He came from the school of hard knocks and trained with the legends of our industry like Marco (Pierre White) and Tom Kerridge. He was about 50 and ran around the kitchen like an 18-year-old. His main priority was being in the kitchen at all times and making sure everything went to plan. He made me realise that regardless of how far you get, you have to love what you do. He blew my mind.

Tell me about your culinary education and experience.

After catering college we started doing high end food for private boxes, contract catering at big football stadiums and worked at a lot of the big hotels such as Yorebridge house and Swinton Park, as well as York restaurant Skosh.

What attracted you to Legacy at The Grand?

After working for six months in The Rise restaurant in The Grand, I had a chance to help open a new restaurant and have an input into designing this brand-new concept. It was amazing to get involved from the start and to help shape Legacy into what it is today.

Can you describe Legacy in five words?

Luxury, heritage, intimate, modern, British.

Legacy focuses on sustainability, can you give some examples of how this is achieved?

Big hotels go through masses of ingredients and waste, so we wanted to do our best to reduce this. We have six different food waste bins just in the kitchen. We also make sure we use every part of the ingredients. For example, the Langoustine; the tail we would use for the main part of the meal, any excess we trim down and put towards the ravioli mix and the shells, which would often be thrown away, we use to help make the sauce. It’s about taking one ingredient and using it many times over. It’s about making small changes and planning, so less is wasted. Most people don’t know that we even have beehives on the roof of the hotel and we use their honeycomb with the cheese course.

Name three kitchen tools you can’t do without?

Spoon, tweezers, and my little knife.

It’s well known that chefs work long, unsociable hours. How do you remain motivated?

Knowing I put somebody in a good mood, and our hard work has made somebody’s special occasion extra memorable. As chefs we are always in the background; a small part of these important dates. Knowing a meal we cooked made that more memorable is really amazing.

What is your easy, go to dish to cook at home?

I love Thai. Stir-fries, egg-fried rice, teriyaki chicken, vegetables. I normally meal prep. I usually have tons of sticky rice at mine and there are always eggs here, very fast, greasy, good grub. If I could eat one type of food forever it would be Thai.

Nothing is perfect. What’s the worst part of the job?

I’m not complaining because I love my job and it’s my dream to be a head chef of a successful and busy restaurant, however, naturally that tends to be on the weekends, so I rarely give myself time off on a Saturday evening!

Contact us

Legacy at The Grand

York YO1 6GD

Tel. 01904 380038

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