All Change for Autumn
The move into Autumn with its colours of marmalade, mustard and ‘mellow fruitfulness’ heralds new menus for those restaurants, pubs and cafes who focus on local and seasonal produce.
Simon Hartnett, Executive Chef, Restaurant 1865, Queens Hotel, Southsea, explains: “Autumn and spring are such exciting times of the year in the kitchen. Spring and summer mean soft fruits and fresh produce, while autumn and winter mean for me hearty root vegetables and braised dishes. We are bringing in flavours that celebrate everything about this time of year. ”
Here’s an insider take on the professional kitchen: menu planning for the new seasonal dishes began back in July! Simon says that the creation of the final autumn menu was a team effort. “It’s all about creating a balance of flavours and finding out what produce is available.”
As a keen supporter of Hampshire Fare, Simon loves to source and use local produce wherever he can. “All our meat is from Southsea’s award-winning independent butcher, Buckwells, and our fish comes from Brighton & Newhaven Fish who run the fish market on the Camber in Old Portsmouth. Our cream and duck eggs come from the Isle of Wight and Old Winchester cheese is made by the award-winning Lyburn Farmhouse cheeses in the New Forest.
“Scallops are back on the menu as a starter and included in the main course offering of Pork Belly, Black Pudding & Scallop. We’ve got hearty, robust flavours with our Venison Scotch Egg served with spiced plum ketchup and celeriac remoulade. And in a throwback to the 1970s, we’ve even got a Knickerbocker Glory - with a vegan option available on request.”
Simon is also local - Pompey born and bred. Even as a child he was fascinated by food and it was only natural that he become a chef. He recalls: “From as far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a chef. I was fascinated by food as a child and when we went on holiday to France, I would use the pocket money I had saved to go round the food markets buying cheese and other treats. My Nan worked as a cook and because my Mum worked long hours, I would always cook at home. I can remember being about six or seven years-old and enjoying making scrambled eggs.”
When asked what Simon enjoys most about being an Executive Chef, he doesn’t hesitate: “I love coming to work every day to make people happy. Food is such a big part of what we do at Queens Hotel and pushing every day to create great dining experiences really excites me. I also love developing young chefs within my team. I have been very lucky to have some amazing mentors during my career and trying to spot that talent and passion within young people is so rewarding.”