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We love to invite chefs to our London Innovation Centre and a few weeks ago we welcomed a very special guest to cook-up some of his much-loved dishes. George Blogg is currently one of the most talked-about chefs in the UK culinary scene, after taking the runner-up spot in the National Chef of the Year final in October.

Enhance your presentation with Crème Esprit

Unbelievably, this was George's first ever competition and he only entered to gain experience that would help the young chefs in his brigade to push themselves forward and enter competitions themselves. This is just one of the reasons that George was the first ever recipient of the Matt Campbell Extra Mile Award, established by the NCOTY team to recognising an outstanding individual in hospitality.

George is the head chef at Gravetye Manor which is a luxury country house hotel nestled in the Surrey countryside. The team pride themselves on serving up exceptional food in their Michelin Starred restaurant. By mixing contemporary design with a historic building, whilst showcasing the beauty of the iconic gardens, it makes the perfect stage for George's modern British food. He always puts the spotlight on seasonal, homegrown produce from the Gravetye Manor's 1.5acre Victorian walled kitchen garden.

To celebrate our special guest, we also took over the Craft Guild of Chefs Instagram channel to share photos and videos of the event. After showing George around our facilities, it was time for him to get cooking. He started with one of his classics which was Gravetye Celeriac cooked over charcoal with cow's curd celeriac ash, citrus and hazelnut and was beautifully presented on one of our Creme Esprit Coupe Plates.

This followed with George's simply stunning dessert of roasted acorn custard with dark chocolate sorbet and walnut crumble. George presented this dish on an Artisan Shore Coupe Plate.


Watch the full highlights from George's visit >

We wanted to get to know this talented chef a little better and caught up with George to find out his inspiration for new dishes, discover what he thinks about the National Chef of the Year competition as well as get his thoughts on some of the Lockhart's tableware products.

What do you focus on the most when preparing or thinking about a new dish?

I look at the produce that is available from our garden, and the high-quality ingredients we can get from the local area or around the UK. It's important the dish fits within our philosophy and identity at Gravetye Manor. We do sessions to focus our identity and look at how we want to define ourselves further, so our identity can evolve and change and therefore so does our food.

You entered National Chef of the Year in 2018, what would you say to anyone thinking about entering this year?

Whether you're a confident person or not, you have to gain a level of confidence when you become a chef. You should enter, even if you aren't confident in your ability, because this competition will give you a better understanding of how you can grow. It will teach you to believe in what you do and be more comfortable when you showcase food to be criticised, just like we have to do every day with our normal guests.

For those considering entering National Chef of the Year 2019, take a look at our recent article which reveals the brief.

What did it mean to you to win the Matt Campbell Extra Mile award last year?

It's incredible, but it's also something we should all be doing every day. The best thing about this new award is how it celebrates Matt's philosophy and commitment and everything he stood for as a chef. That's the real benefit; it shows there is more to this industry than simply cooking food. It's about the mentoring, the development and respect for others, and just like Matt going the extra mile above your normal day to day job. If more people did that, this industry would be all the better for it.

Do you have any tips on food trends you've noticed in recent months?

There has been a massive trend towards more rustic and casual dining, probably driven by the commercial advantages for businesses just as much as what the guests want.

However, there is obviously still a massive market for top-end dining and you can still fulfil business needs and provide incredible levels of job satisfaction. Trends in eating habits for lifestyle and environmental choices are becoming much more prevalent, so as a current chef you need to think about this when planning your menus and trying to offer increasingly healthier and more ethical options.

What do you think of the new wave of "Artisan" tableware?

Every establishment wants to use a different style. I don't think it's about using a plate that you like, instead you must choose a plate that reflects your clients, your establishment and your food.

At Gravetye we do use a small amount of Artisan tableware, but generally we opt for white as it doesn't detract from the stunning restaurant and it highlights the food and the colours on the plate. However, we don't just look for simple plain white plate; we like something with a twist or a slight difference to a standard plate.

Above: Creme Fine Dine Impressions Range

How important is seasonal, homegrown produce?

We like to use the phrase ‘Time & Place' considering regional climate, geography and time of year. These things all affect our food and reflect in our menu. As a quintessential country house hotel, we like to create a menu that achieves our identity. In the winter, we tend to produce dishes that use one ingredient but in a lot of different ways, as the amount of ingredients you can obtain is a lot less. It's nice to be challenged by only using seasonal produce as it makes you produce something more exciting and a little bit different.

Do you find foraging and seasonality helps with creativity when deciding on new dishes?

Yes, we have over a 1000-acre estate including forest, farmland, meadows and hedges so we use a lot of foraged produce on the menus. It's about making sure what you use fits your establishment. The kitchen garden is really important but emotion is a hugely powerful tool in hospitality too, if you can evoke that in your guests with your menu then you've created something really wonderful.

What was it like to gain a Michelin star and do you feel pride or pressure in keeping up those standards to retain it?

We've had it for four years now and I try not to think about it too much. The inspectors are guests at the end of the day and I like to cook in a way that will please all my guests. Any table could be inspecting you. We try to achieve consistency across every part of our service and we concentrate on making sure that every plate of food going out of the kitchen is of the highest quality.

What would you like to be if you weren't a chef?

I've got a degree in geology so I might have been a geologist. Luckily, a skilled chef will never be out of work, wherever he is in the world, as people always want to be fed!

Look out for our chef insight articles and Craft Guild of Chefs takeovers as we've got more planned in over the coming months.


Lockhart Catering on 28 February 2019 10:00 AM

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