Unsung Hero: YMCA Surbiton catering manager serves up a treat for cheap

Surrey Comet: YMCA Canteen catering manager Yann Troalen with second chef Jose Neves, left, and trainee chef Natalie Frank YMCA Canteen catering manager Yann Troalen with second chef Jose Neves, left, and trainee chef Natalie Frank

Surbiton is arguably the food capital of Kingston.

Whether it is British, Indian, Thai, Chinese, Italian, French or anything else you fancy, there are many fine eateries serving top quality grub across the town.

But there’s one little place many will never have tried, and could well hold the unofficial title of Surbiton’s best restaurant you’ve never eaten at.

Canteen at YMCA Surbiton serves freshly-cooked, locally-sourced dishes inspired by cuisines from around the world – at a snip of the price of other restaurants.

Those who visit regularly rave about it – and that is largely down to the work of catering manager Yann Troalen.

Yann, 37, has worked at the YMCA for the past 10 years, having trained as a chef in his native France.

But despite working in top kitchens in Paris and Bordeaux, Yann is happiest serving the 80 to 100 residents at the Victoria Road hostel, as well as the 70-odd customers that come through the door every day. “I’ve always enjoyed working at the YMCA,” said Yann.

Surrey Comet:

Natalie Frank, Yann Troalen and Jose Neves

“We just cook nice, good quality, home cooked food.

“It’s better than working in expensive restaurants and serving celebrities because that doesn’t give you anything at the end of the day.

“It’s nice to be serving good quality food to people that might not always get it.

“We take the healthy approach for everything we do.

“One of the first things I remember is doing a chicken tangine for the residents, and it was the first time some of them had tried anything like that.”

Yann and his team of 14 staff and four volunteers are getting ready for a busy Christmas period, with their festive menu (three courses for £13.95) launching on Monday, December 3.

Then, on Christmas Day itself, the team will join up with the parish of St Andrew and St Mark to serve 120 elderly or lonely people a slap-up festive feast with all the trimmings. Jules Hammonds, catering services director for the YMCA London South West, said: “Yann sets a very good example to his team.

“You can see his energy and enthusiasm every day, and he’s always willing to share it.

“If anybody is getting something wrong, he will give them the time, make sure they get it right, but at the same time, he won’t allow anything to go by.”

l Do you know an unsung hero? Call the newsdesk on 020 8744 4723 or email jon.sharman@london.newsquest.co.uk.

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