Meet the chef: Nick St Peter at Bournemouth Highcliff Marriott
PUBLISHED: 16:25 19 October 2016
Drawing on his culinary adventures both here and in the States, Nick St Peter, Executive Head Chef at the Bournemouth Highcliff Marriott, adds a deliciously unexpected twist to classic dishes
Dorset born and bred, Nick St Peter honed his skills as a chef in 3* and 4* star hotels and restaurants in the Bournemouth and Christchurch area, including the Highcliff Marriott. After a brief stint working in Florida, he worked at the prestigious County Hall Marriott in London. Last year he returned home to head up the kitchen team at the Bournemouth Highcliff Marriott Hotel. Nick describes food as “one of the most important journeys in your life”. His menus embrace the ethos of local and sustainable and are a celebration of the seasons.
Tell me about the tastes of your childhood.
My grandmother’s apple crumble which used windfalls from the garden, mixed with brown sugar and cinnamon, and my grandfather’s wonderful “Indian pie” - shepherd’s pie with a variety of curry flavours. I can’t quite replicate either dish in all my years of trying!
What were your early cooking influences?
I spent my formative years working with the last generation of “French” chefs - English guys who had spent time in France and further afield. They taught me everything from making Italian meringues to filleting fish.
What inspires your menus?
I have used my culinary experiences here and abroad, and looked at what families like to eat, including my own. The inspiration for our specials board is simple - look out of the window. The quality of the fish landed locally is amazing - Dover sole, turbot, brill and mackerel – with produce this fresh they are outstanding just grilled. Good food always speaks for itself.
You describe your style as Modern British with a twist - what does encompass?
Think about a shepherd’s pie - now take out the meat, replace it with parsnips and pumpkin. I’ve used the textures and flavours to create a vegetarian main course that would make even the biggest carnivores think twice. I also like to take classic dishes and add a flavour combination that you may not expect such as liquorice-infused butter to finish our Confit Duck.
What exciting new dishes are on the menu ?
The Sumac and Lime Sea Bass is a combination of flavours that really marries well. Sumac, a tangy lemony spice used in Middle Eastern cooking, is less tart than lemon juice and a fantastic seasoning for fish. Another favourite is the Black Quinoa Salad with charred cauliflower, blue cheese, almonds, spring onions and roasted squash. This light and delicious main course is perfect for a warm summers evening!
And for dessert?
The Highcliff Banoffee is a bestseller. We add a twist with confit lime, and salted caramel to really bring out the flavours. It was inspired by my time in Florida and the flavour combos I enjoyed working with so much over the pond.
What autumn specials are you planning?
My Executive Sous Chef, Richard Tregaskes is working on some slow and low cooked meat cuts such as Jacob’s Ladder (short ribs) and shin of beef, which we smoke and cook very slowly over the BBQ. We are also looking forward to featuring squashes and autumnal fruits on our menu from the hotel’s allotment and gardens.
What would be your perfect supper?
I would take my wife to Eleven Madison Park in New York. It’s headed up by Daniel Humm, a true culinary genius. My wife was a restaurant manager for a few years and, like me, enjoys a great meal and a bottle of wine.
What’s on the menu
• Barbers Cheddar brûlée with dipping vegetables
• Mackerel fish cakes with celeriac remoulade
• Sea trout salad of baby spinach, horseradish and toasted almonds
• Black quinoa salad with charred cauliflower, blue cheese and roasted squash
• Slow cooked confit duck leg with harissa, ginger and cannellini beans
• Grilled polenta with Jerusalem artichokes, crispy courgettes and kale pesto
• Sumac and lime sea bass with coriander and fennel salad
• Pork T-Bone Steak with thyme and shallot marinade and chunky chips
Highcliff Grill Restaurant & Lounge at the Bournemouth Highcliff Marriott Hotel, 105 St Michaels Road, West Cliff, Bournemouth, BH2 5DU 01202 200800; highcliffgrill.co.uk