Meet the chef: Marc Carella at Upper Deck Bar & Restaurant

PUBLISHED: 16:11 03 May 2017 | UPDATED: 16:11 03 May 2017

Head chef Marc Carella at the Upper Deck

Head chef Marc Carella at the Upper Deck


Marc Carella is head chef at the Upper Deck Bar & Restaurant at the Christchurch Harbour Hotel where his love of local fish shines through on its seasonal inspired menus

Christchurch born and bred, Marc Carella’s Italian roots meant that great food was an important part of family life. Initially his dream was to be a motorbike mechanic, and he worked for a British superbike racing team based in Verwood, but ultimately the kitchen lured him away from the garage. Marc trained as a chef and over the last three years, under the mentorship of Chef Patron Alex Aitken, Marc has worked his way up from sous chef to head chef at the Upper Deck Bar & Restaurant at the Christchurch Harbour Hotel. On the menu of this waterside restaurant, which is in The Times top 25 alfresco dining venues, are Poole Bay rock oysters, cracked crab claws, catch of the day from the local Mudeford fishermen and home-reared lamb, pork and beef. When Marc isn’t in the kitchen, you’ll find him casting a line from Avon Beach in the hopes of catching his own a fish supper. 

What are your earliest memories of cooking?

Coming from an Italian family food is a large part of daily life. Almost every week we would get together at my Nan’s house and have a five course Italian meal - fresh tomatoes and herbs from the garden, homemade cheeses and breads, ravioli, casseroles, sausages, roast meats, charcuterie the lot. An Easter treat was a lamb casserole that has a Parmesan and egg mixture added half way through cooking. It’s fantastic! 

What lured you into the kitchen?

I initially trained as a motorbike mechanic at Weymouth College, but at 18 I switched careers. We were all big foodies in my family and I loved to cook, so I enrolled at Bournemouth College and trained in Christchurch at Splinters Restaurant. I loved the fast pace of the kitchen coupled with the pressure and heat.

What inspires the menus at Upper Deck?

We focus on good quality seasonal produce: locally landed fish and shellfish, wild mushrooms and game from the New Forest. Other local suppliers include Meadowbrook (run by Alex Aitken’s son Justin). They produce excellent homemade charcuterie, beef, lamb (Wiltshire horn and Ryland) and pork (middle white). With such good produce you keep it simple and let the food do the talking.

Any favourite ingredients?

I am a keen fisherman so it would have to be fish, which is very much the star of our Ad Hoc menu. This is put together every day and predominately features whole fresh fish of the day with seasonal garnish.

What seasonal treats are on your menu?

With spring underway we have a wonderful spring bean and truffle risotto, another seasonal favourite would be the spring lamb fillet Wellington.

And your ideal supper?

I love cured meats, good quality olives and olive oil and fresh breads, or a juicy rib-eye - medium rare with a watercress and Parmesan salad, fresh sour dough crouton and an excellent glass of Malbec. My three-year-old daughter Mia is already helping me in the kitchen. Her favourite meal is sea bass with asparagus (yes very much daddy’s girl!). I cannot wait for us to catch a fish supper together!

Upper Deck Bar & Restaurant | Lunch: 12 – 2.30pm; Dinner: 6 – 9.30pm | | 01202 400954

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