Damian Gomez – Kitchen Manager, The Temple Bar

Temple Bar kitchen manager Damian Gomez receiving his 2015 Employee of the Year award 

Temple Bar kitchen manager Damian Gomez receiving his 2015 Employee of the Year award 

DAMIAN GOMEZ
KITCHEN MANAGER/CHEF, THE TEMPLE BAR

We speak to The Temple Bar's kitchen manager and our 2015 Employee of the Year, Damian Gomez, about life in Brighton and his first experiences of Indian food

Where are you from and how did you end up in Brighton?
I’m from a small village in the region of La Mancha, Spain. It’s called Ossa the Montiel and is well known because of the novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. I came to England to study English for a month and I fell in love with the place, so when I finished my studies in Spain I decided to move here. Why Brighton? My cousin was living here already and said it’s a beautiful city. He was right.

Why did you choose to join service industry? 
To be honest I was kind of pushed into it. In my family there always has been a hospitality culture; my dad owned a bar for 20 years and my sister owns a restaurant. That’s where I got my first job at 16, serving drinks in her bar.

Is this your first time working at an Indian restaurant? And had you tried much Indian food before joining Curry Leaf Cafe?
If somebody told me ten years ago that I’d end up working as a chef in an Indian restaurant, I’d have called them mental. We don’t really have Indian cuisine in Spain – perhaps in huge cities, but not where I grew up. I almost tried it in London once, but I was scared off by the names and the amount of chilli in the food. Now it’s like a world of discovery; some of the dishes we cook at CLC… it’s like having an orchestra playing in your mouth.

What's your favourite Indian dish?
A tough question, but I love the Usilampatii Mutton curry from the previous Temple Bar menu. It reminds me of a stew we have in Spain, minus the Indian spices of course. The flavour they create in combination with the hotness of the chilli is something I’ll never tire of tasting.

Damian (back of photo) training with chef Kanthi Thamma at the cafe in spring 2014, shortly after Curry Leaf Cafe was launched. Photo courtesy of Emma Gutteridge

Damian (back of photo) training with chef Kanthi Thamma at the cafe in spring 2014, shortly after Curry Leaf Cafe was launched. Photo courtesy of Emma Gutteridge

Tell us about the food you grew up with
My mum’s the one in charge in the kitchen back home in Spain. She’s 71, so you can imagine how good a cook she is. Everybody loves what she makes; usually traditional, simple dishes that are incredibly tasty, like ‘Arroz Perdio' which is a stew with made from dried cod, rice and potato. 

Where’s your favourite place to dine in Brighton (not including CLC)?
I don’t really have a favourite; I like to try different places and cuisines as much as possible. That’s one of the things that I love about this city: the sheer variety of good restaurants. But if I have to choose one, I’d say a small Thai restaurant in the lanes called Sukhothai Palace. Just yummy.

What part of your job do you enjoy most and what's the best comment you’ve ever received? 
I love to see customers enjoying what I’ve just cooked for them, their approval when they try it – in that moment all the hard work is justified. Recently an Indian woman said that the curry she was eating took her back to her mum’s house, that she’d never eaten anything like that outside India before. Imagine my face.

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