Simon Crannage Executive Chef Swinton Park

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 9th October 2012

IN ASSOCIATION WITH

Simon Crannage, executive chef at restaurant Swinton Park at Swinton Park Hotel, Masham. Before 2007 he worked for 20 years up and down the country with some of the country’s brightest chefs. His passion is game, locally sourcing estate venison, rabbit, fish and wild edible ingredients for the restaurant’s menu on the 20,000 acre estate also owned by the Cunliffe-Lister family. His modern British Cuisine style includes a wide range of modern techniques and classical flavour pairing. The menu is seasonal, his inspiration coming from the fruit, vegetable and herbs that are grown in the hotel’s four acre walled garden. Simon’s awards include scoring 8/10 in the Times, Giles Coren, design of food with cider for Bulmers Orchard Reserve, retaining three AA rosettes throughout his tenure at Swinton Park and running the Alfresco Walking Food Festival in the Swinton Estate parkland. Simon has also launched his own ‘Chefs Table’ brand of sauces and stocks which are for sale in the hotel and the cookery school. He also featured in ITV1’s Best Dish: The Chefs 2011, where he went head-to-head with Frances Atkins for the main course, serving three types of tender meat from his Swinton Estate venison: loin, ham and haunch served with home grown garden roots and roasted buckwheat. Simon, first and for most give us an overview of your day-to-day role as Executive chef at Swinton Park. My role is to look after anything food and service related- we’ve got a 60 cover fine dining restaurant, A range of retail food products, a busy cookery school and a lot of outside events, we have quite a busy wedding year too – we do about 80 exclusive weddings a year, and also the garden takes a bit of time up! Simon, you have been there – what five years now? So how have you and your food style evolved in that time? Five years yes!  I think that it’s calmed down a lot, matured; it is what I would call natural.  We are just picking ingredients from the garden and around the area, keeping them as natural as possible What about you as a person and a manager, Simon?  How have you evolved and changed? I would say the same as my food – I have simplified everything.  I have given more responsibility to my two Sous chefs, Tom and Iain, I also get a lot of help from John the cookery school chef with all the retail side of things, It’s important not to be a hero and try and do it all yourself.  Use your team; train your team, it pays off.  Well-trained staff leads us to a calmer environment and it’s working very well at the moment.  So yes, I have calmed down quite a lot and am getting the boys to work with me but Rome wasn’t built in a day! Fantastic.  Simon, what has been your biggest challenge in your current role and why? Staffing has been quite a challenge.  Getting the right person for the role.  Our work is very varied, one week we’ll be doing 60 covers all week quite high calibre fine dining and the next thing is we are doing 200 people in a marquee out in the parkland, its very big job, making sure the guys who are writing menu ideas are really in tune with what we have grown and what we are growing, that is quite a hard task to do, but five years down the line I have nailed it now. And now as a team we are ready for everything that comes into the kitchen, keeping our team members up to date with all our environmental and sustainable standards also at the same time. What do you feel has been your greatest achievement, then?  If you had to single one out. I’m very proud of the Yorkshire Life Chef the Year.  Really, proud of that one, I’ve always wanted that one ever since I started here at Swinton Park, I achieved it this year. What did you get a pint of Tetley’s? (laughter) But also just getting the menus right with the gardens – I’m really chuffed with that aspect of my role.  Seeing the guys go out picking in the morning and having it on the plate that day.  That is something we do really well here now – that morning it’s picked and it really does go on the plate that night.  So that is really a good buzz for any chef, and I’m very proud of that. So very successful five years, you’ve got lots of projects going on there ... you’ve got your garden; your three rosettes; you’ve got a stable team now but what does the next five years hold in store for Simon Crannage?  Where do you want to be?  Where does this path lead? I think I am getting more and more interested in making produce for retail.  That really interests me and I want to investigate it more and learn more, so I think as my career slows down within the kitchen ... (laughter) Slows down?! .............Getting the produce right for retail that’s the next big role of mine. So, give us a bit more detail on produce.    What sort of things are you talking about? Are you talking about essential oils ... what is it? We’ve got all sorts of things going on.  We do a lot of product that is either dried or frozen, I am not a great believer in having sauces on shelves in a shop that’s got like two years shelf life on it – that doesn’t ring true for me at all.  Our stocks and sauces are frozen; there is no added salt in them; no preservatives and they are all made from ingredients from our 20 000 acres estate, we also produce herb dressings, chutneys, apple juice, fruit based sauces and vinegars Fantastic, and I guess from chefs prospective it’s something that is a little bit outside your comfort zone and therefore challenges you? And becomes quite an interesting project. Yes, and it can be very frustrating, the whole packaging side of things is a task, to keep it all sustainable and “green” as well as making sure it does its job. Well, Simon I wish you every success in the future it was great to come and see you at Swinton Park.  Wonderful food up there.  I really, really enjoyed my stay. Pleasure.  Thank you. There are a host of head chef vacancies on our jobs board if you too wish to run a restaurant like Simon. 

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 9th October 2012

Simon Crannage Executive Chef Swinton Park

IN ASSOCIATION WITH