Meet the chef - Dan Syndercombe at 10 Castle Street
PUBLISHED: 10:08 07 December 2015 | UPDATED: 12:57 08 December 2015
Head chef, Dan Syndercombe brings his skills for creating innovative dishes inspired by the landscape of South Africa, to the newly opened 10 Castle Street on the edge of Cranborne Chase
Growing up in leafy Midhurst in West Sussex, Dan Syndercombe knew he wanted to be a chef, but I doubt that his dream included working with wild ingredients drawn from the South Africa’s beautiful and remote Eastern Cape. After working in various hotels in the UK, Dan went to Plettenburg Bay on South Africa’s renowned Garden Route, where he created a name for himself as head chef. He was then invited to run the kitchen at a new private game reserve in the Eastern Cape. Here Dan developed a unique style of cooking drawing on wild game and vegetables and herbs grown in the extensive garden. He is now heading up the kitchen at 10 Castle Street, Cranborne, where he aims to create innovative seasonal dishes drawing on carefully sourced local ingredients, just like he did in South Africa.
What was it like working in South Africa as a chef on a game reserve?
It was certainly an adjustment after the UK. I had no idea how rural the Eastern Cape was. South Africans love their red meat and venison (from deer and antelope species), which was plentiful on the reserve. I had to merge the South Africa “braaivleis” (barbecues) with the British love of sitting at a table to eat a beautifully plated meal. We played on traditional Xhosa dishes like mngqusho (samp, a type of maize) and mbotyi (beans) and made fine dining versions similar in style to Italian risotto finished with truffles, using local ingredients like rooibos and buchu which have really earthy flavours.
How did you manage to source your ingredients in this remote area?
Because of our rural location, I was very restricted with supply so we developed an extensive vegetable garden where we grew all our own herbs and vegetables. My dishes were inspired by the natural surroundings. I was privileged to have an endless supply of venison, which we butchered on site.
What flavours of South Africa have you brought to the menu at 10 Castle Street?
Braais (barbecues) are a regular occasion, where families and friends get together around a fire. At 10 Castle Street we will be smoking our own meats, and creating a relaxed atmosphere where friends and family can come together and enjoy good food and wine in beautiful surroundings.
We are also lucky to have such amazing fresh produce right on our doorstep, as well as our own vegetable garden, which we will be expanding. It is important for me to cook with the best quality ingredients possible, and much time and research has gone into sourcing all our produce.
How does Christmas in South Africa compare to Christmas back in the UK?
As a chef, I am always working over Christmas. It is an important time of year for my family in South Africa. Sometimes we have celebrated it a month early, just so that we can all get together as a family. Christmas dinner is served on Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day is spent around the swimming pool, the weather is usually hot. My in-laws run a sheep farm, so there is always plenty of meat, lamb chops are often served at breakfast.
What would be your perfect supper?
I would start with oysters, followed by rib-eye steak, chips, truffles, foie gras and béarnaise sauce, with a poached egg on the side. To finish I would enjoy a selection of good strong cheeses and a nice bottle of red wine.
Starters from £8.50
• Rabbit terrine, leek, piccalilli sauce, crunchy pickled vegetables
• Langoustine tail, consommé penne, vanilla butter, tomato, avocado, pancetta
Mains from £18.50
• Crusted pork loin, ham hock croquet, Brussel sprouts, cider, mushroom,date and crackling
• Roast cod, crispy beetroot, peas, kelp, borage, girolles, bacon broth
• Venison loin, pickled onion, pressed confit shoulder, liver, celeriac, pine, bilberry
Desserts from £9
• Apple Pie, goats curd ice cream, lemon thyme, Bourbon
• Chard fig, Cointreau sorbet, walnut, mint, ginger
Restaurant open Monday to Saturday (noon– 2.30pm/7-9.30pm) Sunday (noon–3pm).
Six course tasting menu available for dinner (Tues–Sat) in the Tasting Room. Booking essential.
For more details visit 10castlestreet.com or call 01725 551133.