Elliot Hill: “It’s not just perfection on the plate; it’s perfection before the plate”

The Staff Canteen

Sure, the whole package counts when measuring success, but for Elliot Hill, Executive Chef Chester Grosvenor, smiles, exceptional personal service, and an enjoyable dining experience are what truly count.

For Elliot Hill, becoming executive chef at Chester Grosvenor is a celebrated career goal that is full of nostalgia and rooted in happy childhood memories. “It was really like, wow, that’s Chester Grosvenor,” says Elliot. “Even when I was young, I used to meet my grandma with my mum outside the front door or before we went to the cafe in the market to have eggs on toast,” Elliot adds.

Growing up in Chester, the city’s Chester Grosvenor has always been a masterpiece of architecture and a symbol of joy for many. “It’s an iconic building, an iconic hotel, and a part of Chester and Chester’s history,” adds Elliot.

Being executive head chef at Chester Grosvenor is Elliot’s dream job. “To be part of that history and part of the person who will hand on the bat to the next is unique for someone from Chester,” says Elliot. If given the opportunity, Elliot would always choose to work at the fine dining venue.

Elliot Hill Chester Grosvenor

“This was always going to be a job I’d apply for,” Elliot says. That’s how much Chester Grosvenor means to Elliot, professionally and personally. “If I had just opened my restaurant down the road, even a dream restaurant, and I had seen this job posting, I would have applied for it,” says Elliot. “It’s like being a Manchester United fan but getting a chance to be a Manchester United coach,” adds Elliot.

The finest food, without the complications

Fine dining establishment and five-star luxury hotel Chester Grosvenor has multiple outlets and kitchens, with Elliot working across all of them. “My role here at Chester Grosvenor is really 24/7,” Elliot says. While it is the creme-de-la-creme of eateries, it’s not meant to be traditional fine dining. “It’s simply intended to look like how it is, and it’s a pile of really delicious food,” says Elliot.

Elliot Hill Chester Grosvenor


The Chester Grosvenor’s dining experiences include: The Arkle, a refined dining restaurant which provides food and service of a very high standard. It’s also got its two AA rosette La Brasserie restaurant, which is good quality and busy from seven in the morning until night. It’s not just free services—it’s all-day dining, as well as event space to host intimate events for 20 people up to big dinners for 250 people. “That’s quite exciting,” says Elliot.

Achieving the finest standard food, dining and service has always been a career goal of the executive chef. When joining Chester Grosvenor, Elliot wanted to take it to the next level. “You’re almost guiding it for the next generation, the next person, I want to be the person who carries on the baton for the next ones,” Elliot adds.

Elliot’s first vision for Chester Grosvenor was to relaunch its refined dining restaurant, Arkle, which took about eight months to reopen. The previous restaurant, headed up by Simon Radley, was open for many years and was hugely successful, but it closed before Elliot and his team opened Arkle. “That was essential, but it was to take it forward,” says Elliot.

Fighting hard times

“I believe the challenges hospitality faces at the moment are certainly unprecedented,” says Elliot. In my career span of 18 years, it’s never been more difficult to operate,” he continues. “The biggest accolade will be staying open over the next twelve months,” Elliot adds.

Chester Grosvenor’s eateries have faced these struggles in their kitchens, cutting down what’s on their kitchen boards. The teams have also had to change how they operate, their timings and have reduced its offerings to two menus: a five-course and full-tasting varieties in its Arkle restaurant. “It’s been about being a lot smarter with our time,” says Elliot.

Elliot Hill Chester Grosvenor


Chester Grosvenor is also looking a lot at zero waste in its kitchens. “We’ve gone through absolutely everything to make sure we are using sustainable business practices and are sustainable in terms of financial responsibility,” Elliot shares.

Part of this is utilising ingredients and produce between its restaurants, where possible. The team has also reviewed its kitchen processes to reduce its electricity bills. Chester Grosvenor’s electricity costs tripled a year and a half ago, going from 20,000 a month to 60,000 a month for the whole hotel, which took every bit of profit away and made it loss-making.

The team has redone all the food safety management systems. Describing it as “a task and a half”, Elliot says this involved analysing every section, every risk assessment, every bit of kit from tool ladders to machines.

“The next step is to continuously improve every single thing we do, from staff retention to the food we put on the plate,” says Elliot. Everything has to be improved, and you have to get up in the morning thinking: What can I achieve? What can I improve today?”.

A 180-strong team

The Chester Grosvenor Hotel employs over 180 people, comprising 57 kitchen chefs and eight kitchen porters. Arkle has up to ten front-of-house team members, while La Brasserie, has 25-30 front-of-house because it serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, afternoon tea, and then the upstairs venue. Some weeks, its upstairs venue might not have an event whereas other weeks it might have four, so it can be full upstairs, sometimes with casuals, or empty.

When dining, guests can expect the ‘Chester Grosvenor occasion’. “We want everyone to feel welcome, but we need to remember the history and the presence of where we are,” says Elliot. The team wanted to remove that slight formality from the service. “What we’ve done now is a lot more smiles and a lot more personal service,” says Elliot.

Elliot Hill Chester Grosvenor


In 2023, Arkle was nominated for an AA Food Service award last year and hailed as a phenomenal eatery—both for its food and service.

“We’re all humble chefs so that some dishes will have very luxurious ingredients, but they’ll be coupled with really humble ingredients that everyone will notice,” says Elliot. The team wants everyone to feel welcome, and it’s the idea that it’s not just for the elite anymore. It’s a venue where guests can occasionally have an excellent occasion-focused dinner that they enjoy.

For Elliot, success cannot be measured in just one outlet. “It’s not just about bums on seats, accolades, or looking good,” says Elliot. “It’s about the whole package: customers and staff, a fantastic GP, fantastic finances, and a beautifully clean kitchen,” adds Elliot.

The team strives to achieve perfection and the whole package. “It’s not just perfection on the plate; it’s perfection before the plate. You can’t get perfect on the plate anymore without having everything else to do it,” adds Elliot.

Elliot Hill Chester Grosvenor


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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 9th April 2024

Elliot Hill: “It’s not just perfection on the plate; it’s perfection before the plate”