Simon Jewitt, Head Chef, Norse

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 14th March 2017

Simon Jewitt, a longstanding member of the Norse team, was appointed head chef of the Nordic inspired restaurant which has been featured in both the Michelin Guide UK and the Good Food Guide last year.

Born in Harrogate, Simon began his career in France before developing his skills at independent hotels and restaurants across Yorkshire. When owner Paul Rawlinson launched his innovative Nordic influenced dining concept in the premises of his café, Baltzersen’s, Simon joined the team as sous chef soon after and has played a proactive role in the development of the restaurant’s distinctive locally sourced dishes.

Last year it was announced that Simon would be taking over Paul to build upon his success and drive the niche restaurant forward.

The Staff Canteen caught up with Simon to find out more about his decision to solely serve tasting menus, why it’s important to respect each other in the kitchen and the opening of their new home next month.

Norse

Mackerel tartare, beetroot,

fermented elderberries,

ramson skyr, squid ink

and dill crisp

Had you always wanted to work in the industry?

From a young age I cooked with my mum at home and really enjoyed it. It was a natural path for me to take. In my eyes a job shouldn’t feel like a job, for me I get to do something I enjoy every day.

You began your career in France, what did you learn from your time over there that you still use today?

I went to France with a group of students from my college. In retrospect I was really young when I went over there, especially since I ended up working in a restaurant miles away from the rest of the group. During my time there I learnt how to get my head down and work long days.

Despite working in kitchens since the age of fifteen I’d never known the number of hours that went into creating amazing dishes; it set a good precedent for the rest of my career. I also saw produce that I’d never seen or eaten before, which made it even more of an eye-opening experience.

You were promoted to head chef at Norse last summer, how’s it going?

I’m really enjoying being head chef at Norse. The team are really passionate and forward-thinking. We have a very different way of working to kitchens I’ve worked at in the past, there’s no shouting or humiliating. It’s important to have respect and a friendly atmosphere in the kitchen as it improves our creativity and allows us to improve on ideas.

What have you brought to Norse since being promoted to head chef?

Taking over the kitchen at Norse was pretty straight forward as I’d been part of the team for over a year already and things were set up well. Since then I’ve been working with some new suppliers such as Farmison & Co. just outside of Ripon and Ken Holland who has an allotment up in Northumberland.

Info Bar

Favourite Ingredients

Rhubarb, being from Yorkshire, I  love our local rhubarb from Tomlinson. At the moment I'm poaching it in verjus, and I've also pickled and fermented some for later in the year. 

Smoked butter, we smoke butter over pine and it gets a really nice aroma from it. I really like cooking vegetables in it - it works really well with parsnips and celeriac. 

Wild garlic, I love this time of year when the first smaller leaves of wild garlic starts to come through. I am lucky enough to be able to pick my own from a spot 10 minutes from my house, at the moment I'm drying the smaller leaves and using them on my duck egg dish. Later in the year we will get the seed pods and salt them down in to capers. 

Dulse, I really like using seaweed for various things, recently we've used it to make a savoury biscuit with cured dexter beef, egg yolk and lovage . 

Skrei cod, I always try and use skrei when it’s in season it’s great to know it’s well fished and comes from a sustainable source. At the moment we are serving it with smoked cods roe, cabbage salsify and a langoustine sauce and its proving one of our most popular courses.

Signature dishes 

Cured mackerel tartare, jersey royal, dill skyr, squid ink crisp - I’d say this dish has been one of our most popular and signifies the type of dishes we cook at Norse. Its seasonal ingredients lets you use techniques to turn it into a more complex dish, it’s also a dish that can be tweaked to fit in with the produce that’s on offer at different times of the year.

When you took over the reins of the kitchen did you keep the menu the same or try to put your own spin on the dishes?

Shortly after I took over we decided to change from our a la carte and seven course tasting menu to only offering a tasting menu, but this time with either 8 or 4 courses. We collect feedback in house as well as keeping an eye on online reviews which suggested that our guests were enjoying the tasting menu more than the a la carte.

This gave us a lot more scope with dishes and the option to add synchronicity between courses. We’ve recently changed the format again to a slightly different tasting menu and a shorter version of it. We offer a range of ‘snacks’ as part of the menus and this new format includes more of these small bites that deliver big flavours and give us even more chance to use seasonal produce.

Norse team
The Norse team

Where did your passion for Nordic cuisine come from?

I’ve always kept my finger on the pulse when it comes to most types of cuisine. When ‘Nordic cuisine’ first came into the limelight it was something that really stood out for me. I spent a fortune on books and going to different restaurants in aid of teaching myself about it – it was fascinating.

When I was offered the chance to come and work at Norse, where our owner Paul is of Norwegian heritage, it was a great way to use the knowledge I had already built, while learning even more about a cuisine that truly interested me.

Nordic cuisine has become quite popular in recent years how do you make sure your dishes at Norse stand out?

At Norse we use loads of different techniques, many inspired from the Nordic countries. I’ve got a section in the kitchen dedicated to ferments and pickles. We usually have around 60 items preserved here. We also use a lot of drying/dehydrating, smoking and salting as well.

Being situated in the UK, how do you stay true to Scandinavian culture?

When it comes to ingredients, in the UK we actually have a lot in common with the Scandinavian countries. When there are products that are only available in Nordic regions, we try and find a UK alternative where possible. We prefer to use very local suppliers. This means trying to source produce within a 50 mile radius of the restaurant, including regular forages in the woods not far from my house.

How often do you change the menus?

We like to change the menu reasonably regularly, so each time our guests visit they get to try something different and new. Sometimes we can change as many as three dishes a week depending on the season.

Baked cardamon and rhubarb custard, verjus poached rhubarb, orange cake, maple ice cream

Baked cardamon and

rhubarb custard,

verjus poached rhubarb,

orange cake, maple ice cream

How is your Kickstarter campaign to find Norse a new home in Harrogate going?

I am very pleased with how well the Kickstarter to move the restaurant to a new location has gone – we reached the target in just four days! We have secured an amazing space not far from the Valley Gardens in Harrogate and are hoping to open the doors at the beginning of April.

What are your plans for the restaurant once you find a new home for Norse?

The new restaurant will provide us with a lot more space for prep and service, rather than the situation we are currently in where we have to move our kitchen from our prep room downstairs, to the service kitchen we share with the café, Baltzersen’s. Having a space of our own means we’ll also be offering a lunch service. There will be more space for us to expand our preservation and fermentation stock too. 

>>> Read more in the Menu Watch series here

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 14th March 2017

Simon Jewitt, Head Chef, Norse