Shaun Hill @ the Walnut Tree, Abergavenny – Working with a Kitchen Great

When I was a commis I was given a book by a fellow chef. It was called ‘Cooking at Merchant House’, which is a fantastic book about the creations of Shaun Hill from his time in Ludlow. Roll on a few years and I’m reading ‘Tough cookies’. It’s a short informative read for any young aspiring chef. It has a brief bio and the four chefs talk about their kitchen tales. It shines light on the industry: the highs and more importantly lows. The book illustrates how the industry really is and in a gritty light it tells hardworking chefs tales.

 Image

The Walnut Tree

Roll on a few more years and my boss, Kit Chapman, who is close friends with Shaun, ate at the Walnut tree a few weeks back. On his return he described to me the food and his experience. I listened closely and when he suggested the idea of doing a stage I jumped at it.

Image

The View from the kitchen window

I stayed at Ivy cottage beside the restaurant which is available as a holiday let as an extension of the Walnut tree. The restaurant and houses are surrounded by breath taking countryside and it is a very special destination. I worked for a day and half in the kitchen. If you’re serious about learning how to cook, the Walnut Tree is the place. No vac-pac machine, no water baths, no chemicals. It’s 100% cooking, passion, knowledge and execution. I was in awe of the cooking style and basic layout of the kitchen. It’s a small brigade comprised of 6 chefs, led by Shaun and head chef Roger. The whole team work very hard to create that special dining experience and the passion/pride is in every member of staff. The youngest person in the kitchen is 30 which made me feel young!

Our lunch was one of the best I’ve ever had- the flavours and cooking were spot on and it’s pretty amazing that Shaun is still cooking on the stove. His gentle manner comes across in the kitchen as it’s a great atmosphere to work in. I sometimes have chefs and waiters complain about long hours and here’s a man who smashes in lunch and dinner service, doing minimum 12 hour days. Shaun Hill, I for one take my hat off – for what you’ve done for the industry and what you continue to do at the Walnut Tree.

Image

Veal Kidneys with Saffron Risotto

 Image

Veal Sweetbreads with Pork Cromesqui and Caper Cream – This and the Scallops were my favourites

 Image

Pistachio Tart with Apricot and Vanilla Ice Cream

Comments

Be the first to comment.

Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Follow this blog

Get every new post delivered right to your inbox.


%d bloggers like this: