Chef Q&A:

Niall Keat­ing at What­ley Manor

Cotswold Life - - NEWS -

NAME: Niall Keat­ing

RESTAU­RANT: The Din­ing Room at What­ley Manor

AD­DRESS: What­ley Manor Ho­tel & Spa, Eas­ton Grey, Malmes­bury, Wilt­shire, SN16 0RB

TEL: 01666 822 888

What is your ear­li­est mem­ory of food?

My ear­li­est mem­ory of food is eat­ing Stafford­shire Oat­cakes with the fam­ily most week­ends.

Tell us about your menu.

We have three restau­rants at What­ley Manor. The menu at The Din­ing Room of­fers our guests more of an ex­pe­ri­ence. There are usu­ally around 14 serv­ings and the menu is a great way for me to show­case the dif­fer­ent cuisines I have been ex­posed to all around the world. Grey’s Brasserie is a com­fort­able, modern restau­rant with an à la carte menu – the per­fect set­ting for us to de­liver Bri­tish clas­sics. We also have The Green Room which caters for pri­vate events, fea­tur­ing a horse­shoe shaped open kitchen giv­ing guests a one-to-one ex­pe­ri­ence with their chef.

How of­ten do you change your menu?

The menus are al­ways nat­u­rally evolv­ing and it all de­pends on the sea­son and the pro­duce that’s avail­able.

Which dish on the menu would you rec­om­mend to a cus­tomer?

Tortellini black, a squid ink tortellini pasta filled with minced pork belly and fin­ished with a pork fat sauce.

What ini­ti­ated your in­ter­est in cook­ing?

I first worked as a kitchen porter at a Stafford­shire pub when I was 15. I was work­ing in a busy kitchen and from there I joined the Bath Pri­ory Ho­tel as com­mis chef.

How would you de­scribe your ap­proach to food?

My ap­proach is open minded, and it’s all about us­ing the best pro­duce avail­able.

What ad­vice would you give to a novice?

For young cooks start­ing out, I would say get into a kitchen that re­spects food, and work with like-minded peo­ple. Give your­self goals and en­joy it!

What has been your most mem­o­rable (or un­usual) meal?

The most mem­o­rable meal to date is Benu in San Fran­cisco, where I was lucky enough to work af­ter that meal.

Which chef has been your great­est in­spi­ra­tion?

Any of the Roux Schol­ars. They are in a dif­fer­ent league and work un­der such pres­sure.

What is your favourite lo­cal in­gre­di­ent?

It would def­i­nitely be beef. We work closely with our next-door neigh­bour at What­ley. Tom Wake­field breeds his own cattle – Aberdeen Angus Or­ganic. We take a whole beast once every month and a half.

What’s in your fridge at home?

A lot of pro­tein and veg­eta­bles. My wife is the cook at home and she likes to keep my diet in check.

What is your favourite lo­cal restau­rant?

Paco Tapas in Bris­tol.

Why should peo­ple visit you?

We are on a very ex­cit­ing jour­ney here at What­ley. We have achieved so much in such a short space of time. When you come to The Din­ing Room you will be served by the chefs as well as the front of house team. This gives our din­ers a unique op­por­tu­nity to in­ter­act with the chef who has ac­tu­ally cooked for you.

What would you rec­om­mend about the lo­cal area?

It’s peace­ful and the per­fect place for a quiet get­away.

What would you choose for your last meal on earth?

Steak! N

ABOVE: Tortellini black

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