10 Minutes With: Paul Hackett on returning to Auberge du Lac

The Staff Canteen

After 20 years away from Brocket Hall Estate, the original executive chef of Auberge du Lac Paul Hackett returns to the grounds as director of operations.

Here at The Staff Canteen, we caught up with Paul and talked about the changes in Auberge du Lac and his new duties.

Paul Hackett, operational director, Brocket Hall Estate, Auberge Du Lac
Paul Hackett
by Auberge du Lac

“I’m responsible for all the estate, food and beverage, accommodation, the training, development of all our employees, as well as the concepts of Auberge and the new restaurant in the golf club," listed Paul.

It is a role Paul had always wanted, but the journey was not without obstacles.

Starting out as an apprentice pastry chef at the Chester Grosvenor while attending college at 16, Paul was mentored and inspired by none other than Patrick Allen, British born Swiss trained chef, and well-seasoned Michelin-starred chef Michel Roux Senior from The Waterside Inn.

“I had to learn French at the Waterside as the whole kitchen spoke in French," Paul commented on his time there.

But it takes much more than being an exceptional chef to excel as Brocket Hall Estate’s director of operations. Paul recalled learning management skills in Anguilla quite challenging.

“I was the executive chef working with 40 local men and women," he said. “I needed to find a way of motivating and increasing quality, and find a way to be liked and not seen as an enforcer.”Quote 1

Paul still faces difficulties, like “meeting budgets and controlling cost”, but it’s not something his impressive career hasn’t prepared him for.

Since first leaving Brocket Hall, Paul has run his own place called The Yew Tree in Gloucestershire. Initially a run-down pub with 25 acres, Paul and his team refurbished the pub and bedrooms and ended up receiving a Michelin Bib Gourmand for the food.

Paul sold The Yew Tree in 2006 and went on to buy the Malvern View Hotel in Cheltenham. Again, Paul and his team refurbished the establishment – being a hotel, it was very different to The Yew Tree experience, and Paul learnt a lot from running both places.

In 2009, Paul went to work for Michael Longshaw, CEO of International Golf & Resort Management and current managing director of Brocket Hall. As part of this role, Paul has looked after projects in London, Nigeria, Brazil, Cuba, and now Hertfordshire with the Brocket Hall Estate.

Since the sale of the Brocket Hall Estate in 2016, Auberge du Lac has been going through some changes, and Paul shared his new vision with us.

Hay smoked venison, salsify, potato, brown rice, red cabbage, beets at Auberge du Lac
Hay smoked venison, salsify, potato, brown
rice, red cabbage, beets at Auberge du Lac

“We live in a different world now," he explains. “The wine available now is huge, for example we now have Pinot Noir from New Zealand and top reds from the Hunter Valley in Australia. Customers expect a much more diverse wine list from all over the world, not just France. Our eating habits have also changed, as well as the quality and availability of produce and suppliers. Auberge needed to be much more of a contemporary dining experience. The materials, fabrics, china and glassware have also been modernised to meet the style of today.”

To go with a relaunched and modern Auberge du Lac, Paul chose a team that had the potential of becoming a well-oiled machine behind the scenes of the restaurant.

“Picking the right team was the challenge; it’s all about the teams who can work together, understand each other, and accommodate each other.”

Led by head chef Matthew Edmonds, restaurant manager Guillaume Pages, and Paul himself, the new team is looking to have an exciting time at Auberge du Lac. Understanding the way the industry works, Paul provides training that goes beyond the needs of Auberge.

>>> Read more about head chef Matt Edmonds here

“The teams are being developed and mentored to achieve the goals for Auberge, but also the goals for their next steps in their careers. Everything is a stepping stone in hospitality, if you work for the right employers – the ones that take a real interest in training and developing and preparing for future opportunities.”

Although Paul has his hands full with recruitment, training, and budgeting, he still manages to make time to spend in the kitchen.

“I’m in all the kitchens – hall, golf club and Auberge," he said. “Remember, it’s fun for me.”

Despite the demanding role of director of operations, Paul sees the bright side of this part of his career.

“I see Auberge as a journey, not really a challenge.”

by Thao Ly Nguyen

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Editor 26th May 2017

10 Minutes With: Paul Hackett on returning to Auberge du Lac