National Chef of the Year 2014: Russell Bateman, December 2014

The Staff Canteen

This is the latest in a series of regular blogs by head chef of Colettes at The Grove and winner of the National Chef of the Year 2014, Russell Bateman.

So what have I been up to since my last blog? Probably much the same as you, working on allergens sheets, large table menus and trying my best to get in the festive spirit.

That said, it’s not been all bad. I managed to sneak in a lunch at Sushi Tetsu, a birthday dinner at Hibiscus and an incredible meal at Kitchen Table at Bubbledogs. Obviously they are three very different restaurants in food style and setting, but all equally memorable for different reasons.

I would absolutely recommend you visit all of them, if you can get in! I was also fortunate enough to receive one of my NCOTY prizes this month; A really quite lovely lunch at Restaurant Alyn Williams. I used to work with Alyn a few years back at the original Petrus site on St James’.

He’s a top bloke and a real gentleman, a fantastic chef with a genuine love for our industry. If you get an opportunity go for a meal. The Dining Room is beautiful and the food is wonderful. I can’t recommend it enough.

Back to the dreaded Allergens sheets!  Am I the only one who thinks some of them seem ridiculous but there are also some big ones missing?

Some that we hear most commonly are: no onions, no citrus, no alcohol, no sugar and no peppers; yet none of these are on the list of the 14 most common. Will we have to add these to the list at a later date? I don’t remember cooking for anyone with a celery allergy for example. All I know is our training is done and we are ready for it to kick in.

Christmas at The Grove is a really great time of year. Lots of people have been enjoying the festive season already. Whether they are large parties in the Amber Suite or smaller more reserved parties in Colette’s, the place has been absolutely buzzing this month. I actually think that this is one of my favourite times of year for food as well.

I’m a massive lover of venison so it always plays a part in our menu around now as does Vacherin. It’s easily my favourite cheese and totally delicious. For me this season is all about big rich flavours and a heavy dose of nostalgia. I’m fortunate enough not to have to cook turkey but I still seek out some traditional flavours like; Brussels, chestnuts, satsuma’s and cranberries. Another benefit of winning NCOTY is as I said in my

Another benefit of winning NCOTY is as I said in my last blog I might get the opportunity to do a few different things to my normal day to day running of Colette’s. This month for example I was invited to mentor a group of chefs from Sodexo in their own Chef of the Year competition. We spent the day at Uni-lever in Surrey tasting their dishes and were then asked to give constructive feedback. Overall I think the dishes they produced were great and with a few tweaks here and there I’m sure they’ll see a few medals at the up-coming Hospitality Show in Birmingham in January. I’ll be travelling up there to judge and see how they get on. I’ll let you know. Until next time, Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Russell Bateman is the National Chef of the Year, having won the competition at the Restaurant Show in October. He is head chef of The Grove in Hertfordshire and previously worked as head chef of The Feathers in Oxford. Russell joins a long line of great chefs to have won the prestigious award including Gordon Ramsay, David Everitt-Matthias, Simon Hulstone, Mark Sargeant, Steve Love, Alyn Williams and many more.

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Editor 16th December 2014

National Chef of the Year 2014: Russell Bateman, December 2014