Nothing brings people together like food. An interview with our Head Chef
If you have been to Ashridge House, you will know we take great pride in the quality of our food. Overseeing a team of 27 chefs, our head chef Paul Patterson runs a creative kitchen catering for more than 500 guests each day, without compromising on his values: local and sustainable. We had the opportunity to have a conversation with our chef to hear more about his role.
LOCAL & SEASONAL
“Running a good kitchen is all about planning, any chef knows it is big part of the job. It starts with the relationship we have with our suppliers. At Ashridge, 95% of our suppliers are within a 50 mile radius. We do not need to go further than St Albans to find fresh fruit and vegetables. We are currently in season for asparagus, purple sprouted broccoli and rhubarb, and this will be reflected in the Ashridge kitchen. I have the same mentality when I talk to our fish supplier in Welwyn Garden City, he knows I want products from in and around the shores. This time of year, we buy mostly from the closest parts of the Atlantic. One of my favourite ingredients to serve guests is Skrei Cod from the Barents Sea, which is mostly prepared for private functions; it is the most tender, beautiful piece of fish you will ever eat.”
“At Ashridge we beat the drum for buying local raw ingredients. To ensure we do, I use a platform that tells me exactly what area a product is grown. If I want to know where my potatoes are from, I can see whose farm it comes from, and even in what field it was grown. To me, working with seasonal products and buying locally is to be true to my craft, and true to my trade.”
“When we design our menus, we have to find our creative space. Tomorrow morning, I will meet with my sous-chef and we talk to our suppliers to see what is in season, and from this information, we piece our menu together. This cannot be done too far ahead as you never know for sure what the suppliers will be able to offer you. Therefore, we create new menus every week to ensure we live up to what we believe in. Many of our competitors work off a monthly cycle, but then you lose your creativity. At Ashridge we have a wide range of origins and cultures of staff in the kitchen. We have a great touch when it comes to Asian foods; we have a chef from India and another is trained on Sushi. To set our menus we interact and get the team excited, then the box opens, and our ideas start flowing”.
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