Head Chef of Forge at Middleton Lodge Estate Shares What to Expect from their Unique Tasting Menu
Middleton Lodge Estate have recently reopened their Forge restaurant
The tasting menu at Forge is full of unusual sounding dishes. Which is your favourite?
It would have to be the Jorvik Blonde Bread course. There are lots of elements to this course, the flavours are strong and balanced and it is served with freshly baked bread and a glass of beer. The course takes you back in time and really does tangibly tell a story of the estate.
Tell us about the ingredients you like to use?
I like to use ingredients that are growing on the estate and within the Yorkshire landscape. I am also lucky to work with a range of brilliant local suppliers when I need produce and ingredients that we can’t grow here. Anything that is unusual I am always drawn to, especially ingredients with heavy textures that are rich in natural flavours.
As head chef of the Forge how are you designing the menu?
Sustainability and creativity are at the heart of the menu and are always in my thoughts when I begin designing new courses for the Forge menu. Working with the rhythms of the seasons, and seeing how each season brings new ingredients, has the strongest influence on me.
‘Each course is almost like a chapter
of the story we’re looking to narrate to diners here’
Where do you get inspiration for your dishes from?
It’s a combination of the estate and the seasons. Middleton Lodge is set in 200 acres of parkland so alongside the Kitchen Gardens, where I work closely with our head gardener, Andrew, there are woodlands and meadows to forage. I like to invite foragers and experts in for the Forge team to learn from. A good example is that we have recently started wild birch tapping to use the estate’s very own wild birch sap. We have also planted mushrooms in the woodlands and Andrew and I are adding to the ingredients that are planned and planted in the gardens and polytunnels. We have beehives and original orchards too, so there is always something, or somewhere, here to find inspiration for Forge.
Do you have a signature dish on the menu?
We have worked on the menu and each course for such a long time, I wouldn’t say I have a signature dish, but I would say that the tasting experience on the whole is a signature to the estate. Each course is almost like a chapter of the story we’re looking to narrate to diners here.
When guests dine at Forge what should they expect as an experience from your team?
Anyone dining at Forge can expect a warm and inviting atmosphere. The team have perfected their knowledge of the tasting menu, the wine list and wine pairing alongside faultless service. They have worked very hard and undergone months of training. We have a strong family feel and work together well which is important, and many of the team have worked on the estate for a long time.
What are the three kitchen items you couldn’t live without?
Vinegars, dried shiitake mushrooms and flavoured oils.
What’s your go-to dish after a long day in the kitchen?
Steak and chips with béarnaise sauce if I have time! If not, it would have to be spaghetti carbonara.
Which other chefs influence your cooking and why?
Clare Smyth really influences my work and my love for Michelin dining. Her work has had a massive influence on this level of cooking and she is someone to aspire to. I am also influenced by chefs who deliver inventive and unique tasting experiences that are sustainable. Conserving the landscape and the environment is essential and those who are out there working with what the landscape brings naturally are an inspiration to us all.
What’s the best thing about being a chef?
There are lots of great things about being a chef, you can create memories for people through food, you’re allowed to be creative every day, and you also get to work with people who inspire you. I really enjoy mentoring and teaching the younger team members – watching them develop their skills and fulfil their ambitions is one of the best things I think you can do.