In the Kitchen with… Bruce Cole

Taste Buds meets Bruce Cole, Head Chef at the Moorland Garden Hotel in Yelverton

How long have you worked at the Moorland Garden Hotel and why did you join?
I joined the hotel in April last year and liked the idea of working within a forward-thinking team. I have been given a free rein to develop the menu and my staff.

Give us a taster of your menu.
It is all about wholesome comfort foods now and the slower cooked the better. Meats including venison, game birds, hare and hoggets are perfectly in season. Fish such as mackerel, turbot and mussels are plump and plentiful. Root vegetables and hardy greens like kale and leeks are delicious. Apples, pears, oranges and rhubarb are all at their best. You will find these ingredients on our menu and we have some great local suppliers bringing us this fantastic produce.

What is your signature dish?
North Devon-raised venison haunch, with faggots, juniper, squash, crispy potato and parsnip.

What is best about being a chef in Devon?
Many producers share our passion for quality food, which enables us to serve up great food to our guests.

Describe your typical day.
I arrive about 10am and chat through the day with the other heads of departments. I check stock for ordering for the next day, as the chefs begin preparing for service. We check the fridges and get ready for lunch service. 

I check on the team and continue with administration and planning during the afternoon, during which time I place most orders. We then get ready for evening service. The restaurant opens at 6.30pm and we serve food until 10pm. At the end of the evening, orders are placed and we finally check the kitchen is clean before heading home.

Any tips for budding chefs?
Strive to get into the best kitchen you can, one that serves fresh produce from local, quality producers. Be calm and organised, and write down every recipe you can as this will become your repertoire and reference for your career as a chef. 

Develop your confidence by making recipes over and over, and try new ones as often as you can. When confidence has grown, put your own spin on those recipes you have learnt. Read as many recipe books as you can and keep up with present trends. Keep older books for reference in your future. Use a good set of knives and look after them. 

Tell us about your recent award.
The Wildflower Restaurant was awarded Best Restaurant in the South West at the Taste of the West 2013 Awards, and we fought off competition from 30 establishments, just six months after I came on board. We are all very proud. 

Are there any local chefs whose cooking you enjoy?
David Jenkins at the Rocksalt Café and the Tanner Brothers are taking Plymouth to the next level and their food is local, sustainable and fresh. I also like Mitch Tonks’ food at The Seahorse in Dartmouth.

Moorland Garden Hotel
Devon PL20 6DA
01822 852245

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