Posted: 21 March 2022

In the next two weeks, we’ll be launching exciting new wellbeing menus that are packed full of goodness with the same yummy taste you’re used to at Ashorne Hill. Today we spoke to Executive Head Chef Stuart about the inspiration behind the menus.

Your name: Stuart Anderson
Your job title: Executive Head Chef

Before we dive into the menus, Stuart, you’ve been at Ashorne Hill for 19 years. Tell us about what you’ve achieved during your time here?

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time so far at Ashorne Hill and I’ve been allowed to develop my team and my kitchen to deliver great delegate experiences.  Some of the projects I’m most proud of include:

  • Design and build of a new kitchen to improve the kitchen facilities, the flow of the kitchen service and really improve our output.
  • When I arrived the catering was largely provided by a third party but I nurtured my own team and brought the whole operation in house.
  • Listening to our delegates, trainees and understanding food trends, I’ve grown the food offering massively with some really amazing feedback.
  • My team has a lot of loyalty and long service, largely down to my encouragement for them to grow and giving each team member the opportunity to be promoted from within.

New wellbeing menus are being launched on 1st April. Do you want to talk us through what’s included on these new menus?

When we were planning the new menus, we have looked at low fat, low salt, low sugar options that would still be bursting with flavour. We will be offering a high balanced menu to maximise delegate’s wellbeing and output for the day, so that if you hold your meeting or training here, your team can feel recharged and energised to promote maximum output throughout the day. That’s right, we hope to avoid the afternoon slump by providing foods that give you more energy and don’t tire delegates out.

And what was the inspiration behind the menus?  Have you seen an increased demand for healthy menus?

It’s no surprise that healthy eating and wellbeing are hot topics for 2022.  The pandemic really highlighted that people are more focused on achieving a healthy lifestyle. Often, going offsite to a meeting can mean snacks on the tables, high fat desserts and breaks and we wanted to make sure that delegates concerned about their diet can continue their healthy lifestyle whilst at Ashorne Hill. We always strive to lead in the MICE space and innovate our delegate experiences.  Their welfare is always at the forefront of our minds after all.

We are often introduced to “trendy foods” that become popular, what are the current trendy foods that we should all be trying to incorporate in our diets and why?

There are plenty of trends to be aware of and here are some that we are working to incorporate more into our menus:

1). High-end vegan 

The rise of vegan food products and restaurants shows no sign of slowing and nor does the demand for this choice.  This demand is really prevalent in Michellin-starred restaurants where chefs are really focusing on vegan guests.  At Ashorne Hill, we continue to develop our menus to cater more for alternative diets.

2). Kelp 

Kelp is a particular variety of edible sea greens and we expect it to rise in popularity in 2022. Its lauded for both its nutritional and environmental benefits, as it removes carbon and toxins from the sea as it grows. You’ll find a number of dishes on our new menu that includes kelp.

3). Udon noodles 

Coming very soon to Ashorne Hill’s menu will be Udon noodles.  You know a food is going to be trendy when large global chains arrive in the UK. Welcome Murugame Udon and Kineya to London and watch out for their expansion across the UK.

4). Climate counting 

Consumers are used to seeing nutritional information on pre-packaged foods, and now we can start making choices that are beneficial to the planet’s health as well as our own. In 2021, a new ‘traffic light’ trial scheme was announced to rank the climate impact of supermarket food products and climate-friendly ratings can now be found in some restaurants showing a sustainability tracker for ingredients used.  Some restaurants have even launched loyalty points schemes around climate friendly ratings, giving more points the more sustainable the dish chosen from the menu.

5). Yakitori 

These deceptively simple Japanese skewers of meat or vegetables cooked over charcoal, yakitori are increasing in popularity, with several specialist spots springing up in London.

And finally, when you’re not cooking up a storm for delegates at Ashorne Hill, what do you like to cook for yourself/family/friends in your own time?

Cooking is my passion at work and at home.  I love treating my family and friends to a delicious homemade Sunday lunch.. . A rack of lamb, roast potatoes (cooked in goose fat of course), cauliflower cheese and homemade Yorkshire pudding. I may also pretend to use the red wine for the jus so I can indulge in a couple.