NEW VIDEO: Success to me is happiness. And happiness for me is to be excited on a day-to-day basis about what we do.

The Staff Canteen

Ricki Weston is the executive chef at Whatley Manor Hotel and Spa which is situated in the heart of the Cotswolds. It holds both a Michelin star and a Michelin Green star and Ricki’s dishes utilise the produce from the kitchen garden across the menus for both of the hotel’s restaurants; Grey’s which is the house restaurant and The Dining Room.

“Grey’s restaurant is purely reliant on the seasons,” explained Ricki. “We change the menu all the time, based on seasonality. We utilise everything we can as specials through there, which gives us the freedom of cooking what we want to cook.”

The Team

The team in The Dining Room run the whole hotel and are based in one kitchen – which can have up to 17 chefs in it at one time. Ricki oversees all of the hotel’s food outlets and has been at the hotel for five years, he took over as executive chef from Niall Keating, two years ago.

Ricki Weston Whatley Manor

He says the biggest challenges of stepping into that role have been creating a whole menu and also staffing.

“Every chef as they go through their career, they get a dish on the menu here or have an idea there, and it’s very exciting when you do that. But when I first sat down and had to write a full menu from start to finish – I had to draw on my own perceptions and my own nostalgia.

“I didn’t realise until then, how personal writing a whole menu is. To get it from an idea, to paper, and then from paper to plate, and then to actually send it in to the restaurant for paying guests – that was exciting but also quite daunting.”

He added: “Staffing and food costs, they are two things I didn’t choose to inherit coming in to my first exec chef role. With staffing where it is, it’s about looking at how we can retrain staff.”

He explained they can’t train people ‘in the way it has been done in the past’ and said: “The hours are a lot less so the time to develop is a lot shorter. We really have to look at leadership and man management, and how we bring people forward on that journey.”

Ricki Weston Whatley Manor
Chicken Custard

Modern British cuisine

After two years in the role, he describes his cooking style as modern British with English heritage techniques ‘coming through’.

“Not just because of the sustainability factor but looking at where we are situated, in the middle of the countryside, we try and focus on that and focus on what the British Isles are. We very rarely import anything unless we have to.”

Ricki and the team use a lot of fermentation and preservation to celebrate what British cuisine is.

“It’s hard to say what British cuisine is because we are fantastic as a nation at butchering other people’s cuisine. I think we just need to focus on what we have here and what we can offer and then just utilising those flavours as much as we can.”

Ricki has been very successful in his time at Whatley, but he says, ‘success is always subjective’ and it’s ‘always a perception of what that person wants from that’.

He explained: “I would like a full restaurant every single night with happy guests. I want that atmosphere where you come into the restaurant and it’s bouncing, not in a ravie way, but there’s that’s ambiance and food coming out from the kitchen all the time. People always moving in the restaurant, there’s laughter, there’s people hustling around in the corridor – for me that is one of the reasons I came into the industry. That adrenaline of everything.

“If we can sustain that for every service, every week, that’s exciting.”


He added: “Success to me is happiness. And happiness for me is to be excited on a day-to-day basis about what we do. Of course, we want accolades, and we want to be involved in all the lists but I think that will come over time.

“Any accolade we get will be a natural evolution of what we have done here as a restaurant, instead of chasing it and changing things to try and get stuff. We will do what we do because that is what we want to do, and hopefully things will come from that”.

The future for Ricki is about growing the brand of Whatley, and The Dining Room and his and his team’s profile.

“It’s bringing everything forward and tweaking everything. Making everything sharp and everything better.”

He added: “I also want to bring people through. There are so many youngsters who are starting to come back through the industry again and I want to show them that excitement of what hospitality is.

“I just want to continue pushing.”


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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 8th January 2024

NEW VIDEO: Success to me is happiness. And happiness for me is to be excited on a day-to-day basis about what we do.