We Chat With Head Pastry Chef Chris Hurter For Chef’s Table
Chris Hurter, Head Pastry Chef at The Greyhound
Chris has a passion for pastry and prides himself on his ‘flavour-driven’ approach to his work. He joined The Greyhound from the Michelin-starred Bybrook restaurant, part of the Manor House Hotel in Castle Combe, where he worked as head pastry chef.
Chris has also worked as head pastry chef at the highly regarded, Auberge Du Lac, holding the same role at both The Grantley Arms, a popular pub in Wonersh, and Searcys at the Gherkin.
He was previously named a finalist of the Association of Pastry Chefs UK Dessert Of The Year, one of the UK’s leading pastry competitions.
Q: Who influenced you in the past? Who influences you now?
A: Early in my career I always looked up to Heston and started to work with him through my senior lecturer at college, Michael Coaker, who put me forward for a job at The Crown. But the main influence on my career has been John Grantham, he was the Group Head Pastry Chef of Searcys at the time I was working at 61.
I worked under him for about three years and he taught me a lot of the tricks of the trade; whether it was techniques, flavour combinations or just the whole of running a pastry section efficiently.
Q: Which restaurant would you like to go to? (that you haven’t had the opportunity to visit yet)
A: There is one, it is called ‘Room 4 Desserts‘ in Bali. It is a purely dessert based tasting menu restaurant that’s owned by Will Goldfarb. It’s incredible how he thinks about pastry as goes against the norm. One of the examples is his take on meringue. Mostly everyone just goes two parts sugar, one part egg whites. He did loads of trials using raw cane sugar, completely changing the ratios, and trying to push the boundaries. It was fantastic.
Some things he would keep the same, but if there is a way to progress something, I’m all for that and find it very intriguing.
I’ve got a collection of about 250 to 300 cook books at home, far more than anyone should probably logically have. But his is the one I always tend to go back to, not so much for entire dishes, but more for flavour combinations and techniques.
Q: Which city/cities are the most innovative in terms of Pastry and/or Desserts
A: So pastry wise I think it is very difficult to pinpoint one exact city. It depends where your cuisine is coming from and what style of food you like to do. I like to take influence from pretty much every corner of the globe, I’m from Cape Town so if I can get some of that influence in there then that’s great.
Every now and then you get bits from all around Europe, obviously Paris is massive and Spain is very big, but you’ve also got a lot of Asian Countries that are really come up now as you can see in the Pastry World Cup (The Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie).
So I mean, I think there’s no specific city that’s booming, I think it’s growing worldwide to be honest.
Q: If you could change any misconceptions about restaurants or food what would they be?
A: So it wouldn’t be such a misconception but I’d like to show people the behind the scenes work that goes on throughout the industry, especially at our level. You’ve got all the staff training, I mean, the front of house here gets trained twice a day; training in the morning and in the evening.
We train all the kitchen team on new dishes that are going on the menu all the time. Training is key, even down to the small things like how long it takes to clean the building and the polishing of the plates. So when people see the end product and the end price they would realise it’s not actually just that piece of meat they’re paying for, it’s actually the entire experience which is what at The Greyhound we’re here for.
Q: What is your favourite Pastry/Dessert on the current menu/s. In which of your creations do you use the fewest ingredients?
A: It’s a dish I have just put on, it is a Pistachio and 33% Valrhona Opalys and Rhubarb dish. In the dish, we’re using Yorkshire rhubarb which I think showcases the level of produce we use. That’s kind of my style of food, letting the produce sing through slight manipulation.
Also fewest: That would probably be my current Buttermilk parfait, which has got four elements. It’s a Buttermilk parfait which we roll in a toasted milk crumb, it’s served with a gingerbread foam and a mandarin sorbet.
Q: If you could invite any Pastry Chef past or present to cook alongside you for one night, who would that be?
A: I would have to go back to Will Goldfarb for that. He is just such a massive inspiration, just the way he questions things and always tries to push the boundaries.
…..And now your two (or more) Favourite Tables, restaurant that you dine at perhaps with family or friends. Places you have visited a couple of times.
*Can I have three please? – How could we refuse…
Top of my list is The Fat Duck, I’ve been here a few times and also worked for Heston at The Hinds Head. The Fat Duck is all about the theatre experience and blows me away every time.
The Fat Duck – Heston Blumenthal: https://thefatduck.co.uk
Second one has to be Alinea. Again a restaurant pushing the boundaries. One of the desserts they plate up they do on the table. They put a big mat down on the table and come out with all the elements in front of the guest. I love the theatre.
Alinea Restaurant: https://www.alinearestaurant.com
And the third one would have to be my favourite restaurant back home…. La Colombe in Cape Town. I went there in January, and it was on the same level as the Fat Duck. You get three star service, (although they don’t have Michelin down there, they are number 56 in the world on San Pellegrino top 50) it’s incredible. They start the meal off with a little envelope inside an egg and it says “sit back and enjoy the show”, again, I love the theatre and find the experience so exciting.
La Colombe Restaurant: https://lacolombe.restaurant