Meet the chef: Jean Gysemans at No 34 at The Orchid Hotel
PUBLISHED: 16:02 24 August 2017 | UPDATED: 16:12 24 August 2017
No 34 at The Orchid Hotel is setting foodie's pulses racing thanks to the locally inspired menus of Michelin-starred chef Jean Gysemans
Michelin-starred head chef, Jean Gysemans, trained alongside his father in the family restaurant in Biarritz on France’s Basque Coast, before working at the world famous Hotel George V in Paris. Focussing on carefully sourced local produce, Jean and his team at No 34 use seasonal ingredients in simple flavour packed dishes. Drawing on Jean’s French upbringing and reflecting customer feedback, the new menu brilliantly showcases outstanding ingredients from the coast, countryside and forests of Dorset and Hampshire.
What role did cooking and local food play in your childhood?
I was always trying to steal food from my father’s kitchen as it looked so good! He inspired me to be a chef – I wanted to prove that it was possible to be good at horse riding, tennis and be a great cook!
My grandmother was also an inspiration. Biarritz has a few local dishes - Poulet Basquaise and Piperade being two of the most famous. My Chef’s Signature Hake uses the classic Piperade from my home town with Bayonne ham, it’s one of my favourite dishes on the menu.
How did you devise the No 34 menu?
Most importantly I started off with the food I like to cook. Then between myself, Christina (Operations Manager of No 34) and customer feedback, the final menu was created.
And locally sourced ingredients are at the heart of this new menu?
Indeed they are, it’s all about knowing where to find the best locally. Certain areas in Dorset and Hampshire are famous for specific ingredients - the sweetest strawberries come from the New Forest, lamb from Canford Magna, asparagus from Sopley and crab from Lymington. We wanted to showcase these on our menu.
What dishes capture the No 34 ethos?
We’ve taken some classic French dishes and made them different, but not so much that it becomes fine dining - that is not what we are trying to achieve. Food should not be too complicated. So for example we have asparagus on the menu but we wanted to give it an interesting twist; so we mixed the mayonnaise with smoked haddock and yusu (a Japanese lemon) and serve it with a shot of green asparagus gazpacho. Then there are dishes like 1000 Leaves of Crab - Dorset crab with layers of tomato, guacamole and vanilla oil - the colours make this dish look almost too good to eat!
And what’s for dessert?
Christina our Operations Manager reminded me that women must have chocolate, so we have a Trio of Chocolate Delights to give the ladies (and of course gentlemen) something to indulge in! Tatin is my favourite dessert in the world and customer feedback for this dessert during our market research was outstanding. The blackcurrant and hibiscus cheesecake was an interesting combination we came up with, we love it.
What would be your perfect supper?
Scallops roasted in their shells, followed by duck confit and apple tatin, shared with my wife on the beach.
No 34 at The Orchid is open seven days a week, midday – 2.30pm & 6.30 – 9.30pm. More details at no34restaurant.co.uk or call 01202 553737.