Hywel Jones, the executive chef at Lucknam Park, Michelin star restaurant and 5 star hotel took us on a tour around the estate.
The stables have been turned into a spa and a brasserie in 2010. Including three pools, an equestrian riding school and a cookery school, the estate consists of 530 hectares. Students had a taste of wild garlic in the kitchen garden. Inside the brasserie, students had a look at the various areas of the kitchen and how the stoves (among which one of the induction plates cost the price of a Ferrari) and the fire oven where they make fresh bread. The chef showed the students the different fridges where they saw some enormous scallops.
We also saw where they make different types of bread (cider bread, focaccia and baguette) and the students were given the opportunity to roll the unrisen baguettes. Meanwhile, some sous-chefs were preparing bream and cabbage. They endeavour to use local products such as dairy from Devon or wild Salmon from Scotland, which they are very proud of. Yet, they will use the best quality ingredients they can find all over the world.
24 chefs work in a shift pattern. The average working hours are 48 hours, starting at 9 and usually finishing their shift around midnight. Their busiest services are at weekends (around 80% full) and during holiday.
Hywell started his career at the age of 16 worked at the Mandarin Oriental in London for 14 years and was then approached by Lucknam Park where he has been working there since 2004 . His passion comes from an early age, when his parents would take him to nice restaurants.
His advice for our little bakers was to watch videos and books from famous chefs; practice, practice and dine at good quality restaurants to develop one’s palate. Bearing in mind the number of staff employed for the service and cooking stages as well as the luxurious cutlery and opulent surrounding, the asking price for an unforgettable meal reflect these expenses.
In order to retain your stars, critics and inspectors come every year to inspect, therefore standards must be of the highest quality. However, Hywel stresses the fact that every client must be treated the same way. A few well-known British chef from the culinary world have passed the kitchen like Ping Coombes who was the winner of Masterchef of 2014. One of the current chefs will be running for The Great British Menu this year.
All in all, we hope that, after speaking to Hywel Jones, a Michelin-starred chef, our little bakers have come back with new motivation and inspiration for their future culinary journey.
We all agreed that it was an amazing experience visiting Lucknam Park’s restaurant. The kitchen was spotlessly clean as well as being enormous. Also, there were two restaurants, three swimming pools, a riding school and a spa. The chef demonstrated his cooking skills, by making mouth-wateringly nice pastries. We saw that they colour coded their chopping board so that their food would not get cross-contaminated. We asked lots of questions about quality and price and the sommelier told us about different drinks. Overall, we thought we were very lucky to be able to visit such a wonderful place, especially since one of us actually wants to become a chef! We felt we learnt an awful lot by the inspirational chef.
Contributors to this article: Maitha, Luis, Viktoryia