Ollie Bridgwater, Executive Head Chef, SOURCE at Gilpin Hotel: “It’s an inspiring place for me and the team to be”

The Staff Canteen

Reaching the dizzying heights of working at Michelin-starred eateries is the stuff of dreams for many, and it is for Ollie Bridgwater, Executive Head Chef at source at Gilpin Hotel and Lake House. But it’s also about having a great culture, ensuring the team enjoys themselves, cooking great food, and moving forward together.

Ollie’s role as executive chef is to oversee all of Gilpin Hotel & Lake House’s food operations, but mainly to head up the Gilpin Hotel’s Michelin Star venue SOURCE, renamed from HRiSHi, that it launched in February 2023.

Moving from Heston Blumenthal’s three Michelin Star Fat Duck to Gilpin Hotel & Lake House, has seen Ollie develop his unique Lake District restaurant with sourcing, local produce and sustainability as his top priorities. Through culinary excellence, storytelling and that indescribable ‘something’ that makes a place, an experience and a feeling stand out and special, Ollie excels above expectations to provide finest dining and customer satisfaction at its pinnacle.

Fine, flavourful and fun—dining for all

Exclusivity and luxury are at the heart of Gilpin Hotel and its Lake House venues, with its chefs tailoring food courses to its guests’ preferences. If guests want something a little extra special, the Lake House will use the Gilpin Hotel team to provide a Michelin Star experience. Regardless of the size of the party—whether it’s a large group or an intimate family gathering—the venue caters for all. “It’s a great place, and we get excited about going there to cook the food,” says Ollie.

Ollie Bridgwater Michelin Star Gilpin


Gilpin Hotel’s Michelin Star restaurant, SOURCE, is a fun, vibrant, and inspirational setting that combines with a professional and engaging workplace. SOURCE strives to marry the highest-quality produce with distinct flavours, seasonality, sustainability, precision, and first-class service to deliver both a fun and fine dining experience.


Choosing the Michelin Star venue’s dish that best sums up Source’s current style, Ollie immediately opts for its beef sirloin dish, sourced from a local farm. Cooking the meat conventionally, the team brushes the beef with a little bit of aged beef fat and serves it with a puree made from onions and local ale.

They serve the dish with a mushroom XO that brings it all together and some beautiful morels that have just come into season, Ollie shares, which Gilpin’s chefs stuff with the beef’s heart and tongue, then finish it with some wild garlic just picked on-site from within the hotel grounds.

With the beer and meat “super local” to the hotel, Ollie highlights, “We try to use more than just the prime cuts in most of our dishes. “We’re proud of this because many people avoid these things,” adds Ollie.

At SOURCE, diners can enjoy a longer culinary experience consisting of a ten-course tasting menu or a shorter culinary experience that involves three courses. Its shorter menu changes daily and puts the highest-quality ingredients at the forefront of its menu development—highlighting freshness, seasonality, and the exceptional skill of its kitchen team.

For a more relaxed but equally delicious dining experience, the hotel’s 2 AA Rosette pan-Asian restaurant, Gilpin Spice, provides an array of exquisite cuisine. With an open kitchen that serves dishes inspired by countries across the spice trail, the restaurant infuses these with Cumbrian and British ingredients. With storytelling once again at the heart of its food, each dish seeks to offer a fun and flavourful eating experience.

Gilpin Spice gives guests the opportunity to try something completely different. “We have loud music, an open fire, and an open kitchen,” Ollie shares.

Ollie Bridgwater Michelin Star Gilpin

Exquisite cuisine at its simplest

“The food style here is quite simple but deceptively simple,” Ollie notes. Each dish on SOURCE and Gilpin Spice’s menus contain numerous complexities and layers within the elements and different parts of the dish, often based on a very simple idea.

All its creations are focused on one key ingredient, and the team puts extra detail into all of the individual elements on its plates—from a puree or a sauce—to make a whole, complete dish. “They are more complex than they may first seem,” says Ollie.

Ollie Bridgwater Michelin Star Gilpin


“We use those elements on the plate to bring communities together,” Ollie confirms, explaining that the Lake District-based venue is fortunate to have many unique local producers. Bringing together all of its ideas and ingredients through its strong relationships with its suppliers, Ollie confirms: “Our relationships with our suppliers are essential for us.”

Tableside cooking and chef-to-customer interaction are all part of the experience at Gilpin Hotel & Lake House. “Guests can expect a good night here,” says Ollie. The front-of-house dining experience provides a laid-back and friendly service. “We have a great playlist that we play in the dining room,” says Ollie.

Ollie Bridgwater Gilpin Michelin star

Along with providing a fine dining experience, the team does not lose sight of the importance of fun. “It’s about having an experience where you’ll get something high quality that’s been thought about and accurately cooked,” says Ollie.

Regardless of the dining experience they choose, the team wants to ensure guests are given the time and space to enjoy themselves, eat excellent food at great value for money. It aims to use the best available products, given in reasonable quantities, with plenty of time to enjoy them. “And we make sure that they are immaculately cooked,” says Ollie.

One bite at a time

At The Fat Duck, Ollie was used to serving lunch and dinner on a set tasting menu. In contrast, at Gilpin Hotel, he was thrust into a busy hotel with a Michelin Star restaurant and second eatery.

Swapping Ollie’s decade-long familiarity with the formulaic and expectant nature of the Fat Duck to the variety and constantly changing menus at Gilpin Hotel and Lake House signified a culture change. Suddenly, Ollie was in a hotel with multiple eateries catering to different styles and offering bespoke options, with its venues serving breakfast, afternoon teas, lunches, and weddings. Unsurprisingly, limitless menu options can mean a steep and daunting learning curve.

“The cultural change of coming from a high-profile fine-dining restaurant to a hotel was my biggest challenge when I came here,” Ollie shares. “It’s just so different to run a hotel,” confirms Ollie.

A restaurant within a hotel operation, with different food offerings and guests staying for two or three nights, is far more than a two-, three-, or four-hour experience. “We’ve got to take care of these people from the minute they walk in the door until they leave through breakfast, maybe some room service for lunch, a fine dining dinner, a pan Asian dinner, breakfast again, and perhaps something to take on the road with them,” Ollie conveys.

With so many eating occasions to cater for throughout guests’ stays, the venues’ chefs have various avenues to consider and control points to ensure they deliver. “It requires me to put on quite a few different hats to ensure we’re meeting and exceeding the expectations of the guests who come to stay,” says Ollie.

Ollie Bridgwater Michelin Star Gilpin


A place to nurture growth and development

For Ollie, 80% of his time is spent in the Michelin Star eatery, SOURCE. The restaurant has approximately 20 staff in the kitchen and 18 in the front of the house, overseeing primary hotel operations and the dinner services for the fine dining setting.

Celebrating his first-anniversary at the helm of SOURCE, Ollie’s vision for the hotel and restaurant remains. “Success for us is ensuring we’re always moving forward and structuring the menus the way we do,” Ollie shares. "We’re becoming creative, and it’s an inspiring place for me and the team to be in that kitchen,” Ollie adds.

Ollie Bridgwater Michelin Star Gilpin

With a happy team and busy restaurant at its core, Ollie continues: “Success is to continue to have a bustling restaurant and to make sure that we have a great culture, enjoying ourselves, cooking great food, and moving forward.”

“We’ve got a big mountain to climb to get to where we want to be, but we’re focused on taking just one step at a time, and it’s a really exciting journey,” Ollie enthuses.

Written by: Natasha Spencer-Jolliffe

Ollie Bridgwater The Gilpin


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Editor 23rd April 2024

Ollie Bridgwater, Executive Head Chef, SOURCE at Gilpin Hotel: “It’s an inspiring place for me and the team to be”