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Chef Q&A: Ellis Manchee of The Grill Room, Down Hall Hotel

PUBLISHED: 10:17 23 July 2018 | UPDATED: 10:17 23 July 2018

Pan-fried quail, braised leg, leek, quails’ egg and pear (photo: Down Hall Hotel)

Pan-fried quail, braised leg, leek, quails’ egg and pear (photo: Down Hall Hotel)

down hall hotel

Senior sous chef at the Hatfield Heath restaurant on molecular gastronomy, quail and harmony

Describe your style

My style is a modern plating technique with some classic cooking techniques used as well, with molecular gastronomy (the chemical transformation of ingredients in cooking) also playing a part.

How do you decide your menu?

The menu reflects the season and when we feel produce is at its best. We try to keep it varied and make changes every month.

What local producers do you use?

Currently we use suppliers in Essex and we use produce from our own vegetable garden.

Which menu dish do you most enjoy preparing?

We have just finished serving a rabbit dish which I really enjoyed preparing as it can be quite delicate work.

What ingredient is most important to your cooking?

Salt! It’s so important. It brings out other flavours and aromas in the dish.

Your best culinary idea?

A recent dish added to the menu is pan-fried quail, braised leg, leek, quails’ egg and pear (pictured above). The quails’ egg is arranged on a bed of dried leeks to look like a ‘nest’ – a really interesting way of presenting the dish.

Who did you train under and what did they teach you?

I have trained under a few different chefs throughout my career; however Darren Bennet (The Magic Mushroom, Billericay) taught me everything I needed to know to run a successful restaurant. Listening to your customers, I believe, is one of the most important aspects of this. It’s also important to ensure you work harmoniously with the front of house staff as this enables the smooth running of the service.

Prediction for next food trend?

It’s not really a new trend but vegan food is really going to take off! Plant based and healthier dishes are becoming increasingly popular.

Quick grill

What’s in your fridge at home?

Not much as I’m never really home! However there are a few beers for relaxing after work.

Favourite quick meal?

Spaghetti carbonara. This can be made in 15 minutes and only uses six ingredients.

Top three tips for amateur cooks?

1. Taste as you go.

2. Season your food well.

3. Have fun and enjoy what you’re doing.

Best cookbook?

Larousse Gastronomique – it’s an encylopedia of cooking methods and ingredients.

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