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Luxury Hospitality Magazine speaks with Steve Smith, Head Chef at fine dining restaurant Latymer at Pennyhill Park, about his new role and all about the dynamic new menu…

1) Have you always wanted to become a Chef?

I was initially interested in physics and biology more than cooking. I don’t remember at what point it became cooking, though.

2) Tell us about your journey into the industry.

I started working for Jean Christophe Novelli at Gordleton Mill in Hampshire – the restaurant and Jean Christophe were on an upward curve at the time I was there. Johnathon Meades named it restaurant of the year in The Times, Michelin awarded a star soon after, The Egon Ronay Guide and Good Food Guide were also full of praise and the restaurant did well. We had a small, successful team. Jean Christophe eventually left and moved to the Four Seasons opposite Hyde Park. I went on to Work at Gidliegh Park, Paul Heathcote’s restaurant in Longridge, and Rascasse in Leeds. I eventually took over at Gordleton Mill as my first Head Chef position.

3) Talk us through your new role at Latymer and what the menu entails

It’s straightforward, Latymer is open five dinners and one lunch a week currently. We currently operate with a surprise six-course discovery menu, supplemented with a three-course lunch menu.

4) What flavours and ingredients are your favourite to work with, and can we see this within any of the dishes in the menu?

I like using tart and acidic flavours within dishes to pronounce other flavour profiles. Sea Buckthorn sparks the natural flavours in carrot and mussels, for example. Rhubarb loves the pepper profile in Nasturtium or grassiness of basil. They also help to cut the fattiness of dishes, giving them clarity and balance. Both are examples that could be on our menu.

5) What is one of your favourite dishes on the menu, and why?

I don’t really have a favourite to be honest, they are all lovely.

6) Tell us how Covid-19 has impacted your new role

It has affected every single way we operate. More so for the restaurant service. Restaurant Manager Charlotte Beeson and Head Sommelier Aurele Istrate have done a fantastic in making sure our guests are put at ease and made to feel comfortable and safe. Opening times have been revised to adhere to changes in government guidelines.

7) How important is seasonal produce as well as being creative with new flavours?

Buying ingredients at their prime is key to maximising flavour. Getting flavour combinations which are harmonious is key to the success of a dish. Flavours that work are more important than being new.

8) What are some unique features/elements to the dishes?

Something that I feel makes the dishes on our menu stand out is the importance of seasonal, and therefore sustainable, produce that we base the menu around.  The menu will change according to whichever ingredients are in season and available to use at any given time.  This focus on showcasing the best nature is offering us at any given moment is why the surprise menu is exactly that – a surprise!

9) Is it important, in your opinion, to create an experience with food?

Of course, it is. We want our customers to have had an experience that leaves a positive impression on them. One that leaves them happy and wanting to return.

10) In a few words, why should people come and try out the menu at Latymer?

It’s fabulous.