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Chef Profile: Andrew McLeish

What made you aspire to be a chef?

A little cliché to say but I always wanted to be a chef. I love the different cultures that food encompasses. I love the buzz of the kitchen.

Talk us through some of the new items on the menu?

The roe buck season has just started so we will be using some beautiful tender roe deer. This is a great summer venison. We have some amazing local turbot and wild sea bass is in abundance at the moment.

Will there be any locally sourced produce used in the dishes at all?

I use local as much as possible for example locally shot venison and asparagus although the season has almost finished. Our strawberries and other berries are from Kent’s local farms.

Do you think it works better changing the menu weekly?

The customers love to see menu changes. For us, it’s a balance between the changing of the seasons and consistency of the dishes. We have a lunch menu that changes weekly. As we are so busy it would be crazy to change the whole a la carte menu weekly so we change 3-4 dishes a week on this menu.

Do you have a specific style of cooking you enjoy most?

I love to cook game especially grouse. The traceability and the field to fork ethic is very important to me.

My cooking style is old school. Roasting in a pan in butter, poaching, braising etc. Just proper old school cooking.

Talk us through the seven course tasting menu…

Rabbit arancino: spring pea gel and aged Parmesan. I love the richness of the rabbit and risotto that is cut with a little Gewürztraminer in a crisp shell.

Crispy pigs head, Cornish lobster and aubergine purée: We braise the pigs head under pressure for about 4 hours with an aromatic stock. Once braised, we extract all the succulent pieces of meat and press them into a terrine. The sweetness of the Cornish lobster and pork go really well together.

Josper baked Rock oyster, Exmoor caviar & crème fraiche:  We discovered baking the oyster in the Josper by accident. We literally put the whole oyster in the Josper and leave it for four minutes. Then we pop the top of and serve it with a generous amount of caviar and a little crème fraiche. The flavour is amazing.

Crab and scallop tortellini & Asian mushroom broth: A simple but very flavoursome dish. Works well with the sweet crab and scallop against the earthiness of the mushrooms.

Roast squab pigeon, English asparagus and smoked celeriac purée:  I love using squab pigeons. The flavour and tenderness is incredible. We simply serve it poached and roasted with a silky smooth smoked celeriac purée made with oak smoked butter, some local English asparagus and a crisp Bon Bon made from the leg.

Tête de Moine cheese, truffle honey and toasted sourdough: A great aromatic Swiss cheese that we cut on the Girolle and serve with a little warm toasted sourdough and local truffle honey.

Elderflower soufflé: It would be unacceptable to miss this great little flower’s short season. To me it signifies the beginning of the summer and warmer weather. A light elderflower soufflé with elderflower crème Anglaise and fresh raspberry sorbet.

Coffee with salted caramel truffles: To finish a meal with a coffee and some little smooth salted caramel truffles is the perfect way to finish.

What are the aims for the restaurant environment?

Our aim at Chapter One is to create an amazing dining experience that’s fun but polished and attentive to our guests in a discreet way. I want you to leave wanting to go back. This doesn’t mean just good food – it needs to encompass great service, great cocktails and wine, a fantastic bar and a price point that is fair. We have a great team here. The kitchen is led by Dean our head chef. Front of house, we have Marcel my business partner, Michele our general manager and Robert our head barman and mixologist. With these guys, and many others, I believe Chapter One is now the best it has ever been.

What culinary experiences are available?

We offer a brasserie menu, lunch menu du jour, a la carte, 7-course Tasting Menu and Sunday lunch. We regularly host special events including Champagne, Wine, Whisky and Cognac Tastings with canapes, Cocktail Classes and Cookery Masterclasses including how to prepare a Christmas turkey in the Private Dining Room. Chapter One has become a hub for foodie experiences in the area as well as a great restaurant for informal and formal dining.

Will you continually experiment with new flavours?

Our learning and progression should never stop.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to become a chef and what are some of the most important things you have learnt?

Be prepared to work hard, very hard. Never give up; it will be hard but very rewarding. There will be many ups and downs. Put your head down, observe and most importantly, listen. There will be a time when you are put to the test and that is your time to show the chef you have listened and learned.


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