Meet the chef behind The Ollerod in Beaminster

PUBLISHED: 16:51 23 July 2018 | UPDATED: 16:51 23 July 2018

Chris Staines and Silvana Bandini. © R.W.Brown 2015

Chris Staines and Silvana Bandini. © R.W.Brown 2015

© R.W.Brown 2015

Asian flavours combine with seasonal Dorset ingredients at The Ollerod - an exciting new relaxed dining venture in the heart of Beaminster

The Bridge House Hotel in Beaminster has got new owners – Chris Staines (formerly executive chef at Abbey Hotel, Bath) and his partner Silvana Bandini (from The Pig in Bath). It’s also got a new name – The Ollerod, a Dorset dialect name for cowslip, which Chris found in one of his mum’s books on Dorset. The couple aim to create a more informal restaurant with rooms. Chris, who held a Michelin-star at Foliage at Mandarin Oriental Hotel in London, is looking forward to combining his passion for Asian flavours with top notch local ingredients.

Tell me about the food of your childhood

Weekends were spent on my parent’s allotment, or at the local PYO gathering strawberries and raspberries, every Sunday we had a proper roast dinner. This had a big impact on me, it made me aware of “fresh food” and the importance of a family meal.

What set you on the path to being a chef?

Watching the Roux Brothers on TV, I was maybe eight or nine. When the time came to choose a placement for work experience I spent a week in a bank licking stamps and a week in a busy hotel kitchen – I was hooked.

Ise of Wight tomato salad which is on the small plates menuIse of Wight tomato salad which is on the small plates menu

What has influenced your cooking?

I was classically trained and spent all of my spare time (and money!) eating in the best French restaurants both here and in France. Then I tried my first proper Thai meal, cooked by the great David Thompson; it was like tasting food for the first time, ever since I’ve been fascinated by the delicate balance of flavours.

What’s on your menu?

We offer a full a la carte menu and a small plates menu which change regularly depending on what’s good on the day. Sometimes it will feel more European and other times there will be a definite Asian thread running through it. We’ve just planted the raised beds in our beautiful garden and we want to create one dish which is 100% grown here – a 15 leaf salad - a rolling mix of different herbs and lettuces (some common and others a bit more exotic).

And for dessert?

Our take on Eton Mess - the strawberries are macerated in a lime and elderflower syrup. Or how about local raspberries with lemon verbena ice cream?

Isle of Wight tomato salad from the Small Plates menuIsle of Wight tomato salad from the Small Plates menu

What local ingredients are you working with?

We have Furleigh down the road who do fantastic wines, particularly their sparkling, and Black Cow Vodka three miles in the other direction who make the best vodka I’ve ever tasted and incredible cheese! The local fish and shellfish are exceptional and feature heavily on our menu, including Portland oysters. u

What’s on the Small Plates Menu at The Ollerod?

- Ajo Blanco chilled almond soup, crab, mango & white grapes

- Soba noodle salad, grilled purple sprouting broccoli with peanut, ginger & sesame dressing

- Charred mackerel, kimchi, smoked mackerel broth, pickled Thai shallots & pink grapefruit

- Middle Eastern spiced lamb shoulder, hummus, yoghurt & pomegranate

To book call 01308 862200 or visit

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