When a Great British Chef opens a hotel and fine dining restaurant in Lympstone, it’s great news for the community. We decided we would put a few questions to him on the Lympstone connection; why this location, his connection to the community, the special features of Lympstone Manor, and more. Here are those questions, and his responses.
- Why did you decide to open your new hotel and restaurant in Lympstone?
I was looking for a property in East Devon and previously looked at Rockbeare Manor and Combe House. When I found Courtands Mansion, as it was known then, it became very obvious that it was located in the perfect situation and the property itself had potential to make an outstanding country house hotel and restaurant.2. What do you especially like about the village/estuary location?
The River Exe is a special place. Partly this is due to the wildlife haven, but also because the views out to the estuary are outstanding and arguably the best in the South West. In terms of elevation and position, I couldn’t think of anything else that could compliment what we’re doing here at Lympstone Manor. The vantage point we have from the property is breath-taking. I’m proudly from Exeter myself, so it makes this place all the more special to me.
3. Do you expect to have a special sea food menu that might use locally caught fish? Might you be using other local produce?
I have always prided myself in using produce from the South West and in particular, Devon. In addition to our a la carte, guests will be able to choose from two tasting menus account. One will be a selection of my signature dishes, the other will be a sea and estuary tasting menu. We will work with local day boats for our seafood. We are so fortunate to have amazing produce all around us so we will champion the best meat, poultry, game, vegetables and fruits from the South West larder.
4. Will there be any facilities or special events for local people?
I want to encourage locals into the hotel and restaurant as much as possible. Lympstone Manor should be a place to celebrate that special birthday and anniversary as well as somewhere for a quiet weekend drink. We will also be launching a special club for non-residents, I can’t say much right now but details to come soon!
5. Will you be running a training kitchen at Lympstone Manor in partnership with Exeter College?
No, we’re not running a training kitchen, however we will be providing work experience with Exeter College and running our own apprenticeship scheme in both front of house and in the kitchen. Working with schools as well.
6. What are the likely features to be of Lympstone Manor that will distinguish it from other fine dining and hotel experiences in the region?
Its unique location first and foremost. Secondly, the fact that we have just restored the house to its exquisite Georgian splendour. Bringing the property back to life has been a labour of love and a real honour. But I also hope people come to Lympstone Manor to experience my cuisine and my vision for the place.
7. Might you and your team want to get involved in village traditions like our annual Furry Dance on the first Saturday of each August?
We want to be involved in the local community and traditions as much as possible, so it’s certainly on our radar to help where we can.
8. What are the attributes of a young chef that, in your view, give that person the potential to succeed at the highest level?
Three attributes I feel are important:
– Acceptance that long hours and hard work is necessary
– Having an open mind
9. How important is gaining a Michelin Star (or, in time, stars) as an indicator of your success as a restaurant?
I have always been ambitious and earning two Michelin stars has been one of the proudest moments of my life. For me a successful restaurant will be a room full of customers who are all enjoying the food I have cooked for them, anything else would be the cherry on top of the cake!