Nick Bennett, Head Chef at Old Downton Lodge

We were delighted to be invited recently by the highly acclaimed Old Downton Lodge, Ludlow, Shropshire to meet and chat with Nick Bennett their Head Chef.

Originally from Leamington Spa, he trained at Stratford upon Avon College, before joining the Mallory Court Brasserie as a commis chef. He progressed in this Michelin Star kitchen brigade to Demi-Chef de Partie, working up to Junior Sous chef within his first two years. Nick continued his culinary career working in Rosette and Michelin Star restaurants, The Curlew and Restaurant 56 at the Sudbury House Hotel.

On his new role, Bennett said “I am really excited to have joined the team at Old Downton Lodge. After visiting the property and surrounding area, it was an easy decision for me to make.

We wanted to know a little more about Chef and his plans:

Question: 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 was a finalist on the BBC Master Chef the professionals programme in 2015, and loved every up and down moment along the way. I think these types of tv shows are great for the industry and for a chef. You just need to be prepared for the odd negative comment on social media!

I’d love to compete on the Great British Menu

Question: What would be your last dish (to eat) “the death row question”

A: One of, if not my favourite dish was the Veal Sweetbread, Foie Gras and Almond Veloute at Restaurant Gordon Ramsey in Chelsea. The whole meal could be my death row menu, but that starter was phenomenal.

Question: Which restaurant would you like to go to? (that you haven’t had the opportunity to visit yet)

A: I’d love to go to Moor Hall by Mark Birchall. I ate Marks food at L’Enclume and was blown away and love what I see on social media.

Question: what is your favourite dish on the Old Downton Lodge  current menu, that you had pleasure creating.

A: I’m loving all of our dishes, but I really enjoy preparing, cooking and plated our Quail starter. The bird is taken apart, breasts and legs stuffed, all bones used for the sauce. It’s a labour of love that is worth all the prep. We serve it with a Caramelised Cauliflower puree, roasted cauliflower, spiced prune and hazelnuts.

Question: What would be on your banquet menu if you could create a meal and have any ingredients or styles of cooking from around the world?

A: I’m quite classically trained, so my style and technique would warm to the french way. But it would be a menu championing British cuisine. Some of our best ingredients pair so well together. Asparagus and Berkswell cheese with cured egg yolk. Dexter beef fillet and oxtail with alliums and garlic. And a take on cheesecake with English strawberries and basil would be three choices that spring to mind.

Question: If for one night you could be invited to cook alongside any Chef past or present who would that be and why?

A: I’d have to say, Gordon Ramsey. He’s just a master craftsman and after seeing so many episodes of boiling point, he both scared and amazed me as a young chef.

My Favourite Tables – restaurants I have visited several times and why?

Restaurant (1):
The hand and flowers in Marlow. I love Tom Kerridge’s food! Far from just a pub.

Restaurant (2):

Beefy Boys Hereford

Great for the family! Amazing burgers amongst other things

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