We introduce you Simon Willis, Head Chef at our venue of the month – Yarnfield Park, part of The Venues Collection. We spoke to Simon to learn more about his cooking inspirations and the food in Yarnfield Park. Get inspired in the kitchen with one of Simon’s favourite recipes and how to prepare it.
What made you want to be a chef and when did your love of food first start?
I fell in love with the kitchen at an early age. It was the only place I felt myself and was somewhere I could be creative. I knew that with my passion for food, becoming a chef would take my knowledge to the next level. As a chef you have to form close bonds with your team as when the going gets tough you need to know you can depend on those around you, and that’s a great feeling when you finish service and know you’ve come through it and produced some great food. I also love the constant learning, every day is a school day in a kitchen and we never let ourselves get comfortable, we’re always looking for new ideas, ingredients, flavours, techniques or trends, it keeps us on our toes and makes every day different.
Do you have any stand out dishes or packages which are popular with corporate guests? What can they expect to eat when attending an event at your venue?
When attending a conference delegates expect a certain level of food. As a venue we pride ourselves in the level of food we make available to our guests. Whether this be our traditional fish and chip Friday or our chefs signature lasagne. Both of which are always a hit with guests.
What options are available for bigger events such as celebrations, parties and conferences?
As a large conference venue not only are we able to offer a number of hot options and a salad bar but we have the facilities to cater for events with hot and cold finger buffets as well as packed lunches when required.
Do you use locally sourced ingredients and produce, and does this change seasonally? What would you recommend for a small scale meeting in the summer compared to the winter? Would it vary?
Yarnfield Park is proud to be part of the Compass Group’s Venues Collection of contemporary and historic meeting space with all food sourced through Compass Group. With this we try to change our menu to suit the winter and summer months, this allows us to vary and experiment with a number of different dishes.
What can you offer clients looking for a fine-dining experience?
Included in our fine dining packages we offer convivial sharing platters giving guests the opportunity to interact with one another whilst enjoying their delicious food. My Brigade and I can offer themed menu’s from around the world from Pan Asian to traditional pie and mash whilst also catering for all dietary requirements. After a conference the quality of the food is one of the things delegates will talk about and ultimately measures the experience and success of the event.
How important a role do you feel food plays in the success of an event and its objectives?
During a conference a meal isn’t just a meal, it’s an opportunity to make connections, to bring people together and a chance to talk about things out of the norm. Included in our fine dining packages we offer convivial sharing platters giving guests the opportunity to interact with one another whilst enjoying their delicious food. My Brigade and I can offer themed menu’s from around the world from Pan Asian to traditional pie and mash whilst also catering for all dietary requirements. After a conference the quality of the food is one of the things delegates will talk about and ultimately measures the experience and success of the event.
What three reasons would you give event organisers to choose your venue/hotel for their next event?
When booking events with us at Yarnfield Park Delegates can be assured of great food, attentive service, and one of the fastest WIFI connections outside of London.
Which recipe would you present us today and what do you love about it?
One of my favourite dishes here at Yarnfield is the Bangkok Sour Pork Curry. Not only is it one of my favourite dishes to prepare but it is also extremely fun to make involving a lot of creativity and flare.
List of ingredients:
- 200gr Onion
- 40gr Sugar Cane
- 20ml Juice Lime
- 1.4L Hot Water
- 175g Paste Red Curry
- Chicken Stock Cube
- 90g Lemon Grass
- 70ml Rapeseed Oil
- 300g Tamarind Sauce
- 1.4kg Diced pork
- 6g Fresh Basil
- 60g Fresh Coriander
- Pre-heat the oven to 150ºC.
- Cut the onion in to ¼ cm dice.
- Peel & finely chop the ginger.
- Prepare the basil and coriander and chop.
- Dilute the stock cube with 1.4 litres water
- Heat the oil in a large pan or wok. Fry the diced onion over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the chopped ginger curry paste & pork. Stir fry for 4-5 minutes.
- Add in the stock chopped coriander lemon grass tamarind sauce & sugar.
- Transfer to the pre-heated oven. Cover & simmer for approx. 2 hours – or until the pork is tender. Ensure core temperature has been reached: 75°C ENG / 82°C SCOT.
- Remove the lemon grass.
- Scatter the basil just before serving.