Fresh from being awarded four AA Rosettes, we speak to the executive chef at Restaurant Coworth Park in Ascot about how they have achieved such success
Congratulations on the recent news of Restaurant Coworth Park being award four AA Rosettes, and you are Michelin starred too. What does this recognition mean to you?
It is always great for the team to be recognised with accolades. They all work very hard and dedicate a lot of their time to making sure our guests walk away having had a great dining experience, the accolades go towards making it all worthwhile.
Does this success add more pressure?
Our focus has always been our guests, and making sure they have a great experience. Every day we put pressure on ourselves to be better than the day before and this constant drive for improvement spurs us on. I see the recognition and success as a justification for all the hard work, not as an additional pressure.
How long have you been at Restaurant Coworth Park for now and why were you originally attracted to work there?
I have been at Coworth Park for 5 years now. I saw a real opportunity to create something very special, positioning the hotel as a gastronomic destination in its own right. We have made great steps towards this in the last five years, but there is still more exciting things to come.
Can you give me a summary of your career before you came here?
I started off washing up in a small restaurant as a teenager, which is where I fell in love with the buzz of the kitchen. From there I went to Birmingham College of Food before taking my first full time job at The Ritz in London where I stayed for nearly ten years. In my time at The Ritz, I was lucky enough to be given lots of opportunities, one of which was to enter the Roux scholarship, which I won in 2012. As part of my prize I got to train under Yannick Alleno at Dorchester Collection’s Le Meurice in Paris. In 2013 I took my first executive chef role at The Devonshire Arms, Bolton Abbey, where we managed to achieve 4 AA Rosettes amongst other awards. Then in July 2016 I made the move back down south to join Coworth Park. In October 2017 we were awarded a Michelin star and also a Master of culinary arts from the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, and latterly we were given 4 AA rosettes.
Can you sum up your style of cooking?
I would say our cooking style is modern British, based on the classics, showcasing the best of British ingredients. I find it difficult to encase everything we do in one style; ultimately, I don’t want to pigeonhole myself and what we do.
How have you gone about creating the menu at Restaurant Coworth Park?
The most important start to a new menu is selecting the verybest ingredients. The seasonality of the ingredients dictate when we change the menus and the dishes we prepare, and of course we have to give the menu balance and variety. We use our classical foundations to create a menu that is relevant and exciting for our guests.
Are the seasons and local produce an inspiration?
Without a doubt the seasons dictate what we are cooking, I love to champion local produce as long as it is the best! And often we pick ingredients from the Coworth Park grounds to be showcased on the plate that same day.
In the dining room itself, what kind of ambience do you want to offer? The oak leaf chandelier is quite something…
We want our dining experience to have the structure you would expect of such a restaurant, but most importantly a friendly and welcoming personality. We want our guests to be comfortable and able to enjoy the experience feeling relaxed.
Do you have plans for any changes in 2022?
In 2022 we hope to continue to develop and evolve as a team, offering our guests the best possible dining exercise we can here in the Berkshire countryside. So no change there!