Growing up in Dorset the young George Blogg was fortunate enough to be introduced to meals containing fresh produce, rather than the prepacked food prevalent at that time. Meals at home more often than not had vegetables or fruit from the family allotment with George helping his mother to prepare dinners evenings and weekends. However, his route into restaurant kitchens came about by chance. Originally studying to be a Geologist, when his mother had to turn down a few shifts at the local Italian restaurant she put George forward to cover. Washing up led to Veg prep and then to junior chef roles. So what started as a means of paying for his studies evolved into a vocation. In his early twenties, the then geology graduate gave up the Earth Science’s to follow a full-time gastronomy career.
His résumé makes for impressive reading with time spent at two Michelin-starred restaurants: Philip Howard’s The Square in Mayfair and David Everitt-Matthias’ Le Champignon Sauvage in Cheltenham. George has also completed stages at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire, The Ledbury in Notting Hill and Noma in Copenhagen. Each playing a part in forming his chef’s style and they instilled many of the benefits around his use of locally sourced and foraged produce. Then following a very successful tenure as executive chef at Hotel TerraVina in Hampshire George moved to the AA Hotel of the Year England 2013-14, Gravetye Manor in June 2014. Gravetye was awarded a Michelin Star which has been retained for the past four years.
Q: If you could change any misconceptions about restaurants/restaurant food, what would they be?
A: That fine dining, or whatever you would like to call it, is not dying. No matter how many places are moving towards more casual dining concepts, this is as much to do with companies trying to improve profits/costs as it is a shift in public need. People expect good value for money, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they want to spend less.
Q; Have you been featured or would you like to be featured on any TV food programmes, are these types of shows a good thing for the restaurant industry and chefs?
A: I’ve been fortunate enough to host a semi-final of Masterchef Professionals in the kitchen here at Gravetye, filmed over 2 days. As a marketing vehicle, TV is an excellent way to get noticed and improve business. The downside, that I feel some chefs fall into, is that it takes you away from the kitchen, and ultimately that is where you need to spend your time making sure that your guests receive the best experience possible.
Q: How important is a Michelin star? a growing number of chefs and restaurants have recently asked that they are removed, because of the pressure – your thoughts
A: If you cook for the recognition of any guide, you are not cooking for the right reason, which is for your guests. If you care about offering your guests the best experience, then should it make a difference if you receive an accolade or not? Pressure only exists if you care more about the guides than your guests. So I don’t really understand why anyone would ask for a Michelin star to be removed unless they were worried about losing it and/or trying to implement a controversial marketing strategy.
Q: What do you think about negative reviews?
A: I don’t mind negative reviews as long as they substantiate why something is bad in a considerate way instead of being negative just for the sake of elaborating a story.
Q: What would be on your menu if you were creating a diner and could have all the previous owner of Gravetye – Richard Infield, Kathrine Compton, William Robinson, Peter Herbert and Jeremy & Elizabeth Hosking around the table?
A: I would serve them our current tasting menu. We call this menu Time and Place, and it reflects where Gravetye is at the moment. Hopefully, they would all be interested to see what Jeremy, Elizabeth and the Gravetye team have accomplished.
Q: What is your favourite dish on the current menu, that you have created in the past 6 months and why.
A: We have a cold starter using cured Isle of Gigha halibut, mussels, turnip, caviar, coastal herbs and sesame. It is a dish with a lot of interesting components. It is delicate, but has a healthy richness and looks beautifully natural.
Q: If for one night you could be invited to cook alongside any Chef past or present who would that be and why?
A: Paul Bocuse, because who else could you choose?
My Favourite Tables
Two restaurants I have visited and why?
Restaurant (1): Umu, London. It’s a fantastic Kyoto style (more traditional food) Japanese restaurant off a side street in Mayfair that serves impeccably fresh fish and a stunning selection of Sake. It has 2 Michelin stars, and is excellent value for money considering the quality.
Restaurant (2): Ynyshir, Wales. Gareth and Amelia have created a unique must-visit destination restaurant with rooms.
Ingredient led, flavour-driven, fat-fuelled, meat-obsessed. This is how Gareth describes his food. I love it.