Meet the chef - Rob Holmes at The Kitchen

PUBLISHED: 16:56 13 October 2015 | UPDATED: 16:56 13 October 2015

Rob Holmes

Rob Holmes


Rob Holmes, Executive Head Chef at The Kitchen, reveals how his passion for local seasonal ingredients inspires the menu of this new waterside café bar in Poole Park

Pork and Chorizo burger with barbcued pulled porkPork and Chorizo burger with barbcued pulled pork

Set in the heart of historic Poole Park, The Kitchen is an exciting new waterside café bar owned by local couple Richard and Sarah de Lisle. It is headed up by well-travelled executive head chef, Rob Holmes, who is passionate about top quality fresh ingredients. Using locally sourced produce from independent farmers and growers, Rob has created a menu of British classics and comfort food for The Kitchen. Signature dishes are seasonally-inspired and the traditional clay oven offers handmade pizzas and delicious homemade pies. 

What was your first experience of cooking?

An Italian school friend, whose parents owned a restaurant in New Milton called La Dolce Vita. It allowed me to experience fresh authentic food, made with real passion.

What made you decide to be a chef?

I was always interested watching my Dad cook at home; he made a great roast dinner. I loved experimenting with ingredients and flavours, so I decided to study Home Economics at school and never looked back.

Tell me about your training.

I got my catering qualifications at Bournemouth College and focused on the science of cooking which I find really interesting, as well as lots of baking courses. I worked in various commercial kitchens including the Savoy Grill as well as running my own catering company. I also had the privilege of travelling the world as a chef on the luxury QE2 cruise liner.

Where else have you worked?

My time at Rick Stein’s Padstow restaurant instilled a love of fresh fish, simply cooked with classic flavours. I was also Head Chef at Aruba in Bournemouth. I guess I’m destined to be by the water; The Kitchen at Poole Park overlooks England’s largest inland saltwater lake.

What are your signature dishes?

The Kitchen Burger is my favourite – a handmade beef patty served in a brioche bun with rustic chips, coleslaw and barbecue relish. For comfort food the slow cooked British Beef and Merlot Pies, cooked in our traditional clay oven, is hard to beat. It is a real joy to be in Poole and source fish locally. I’ve kept it simple on the menu with line-caught cod served as traditional fish and chips, but daily specials feature more local fish in season.

What sort of dishes do you enjoy at home?

My sense of nostalgia takes me back to a good home cooked roast dinner – succulent British beef with lashings of rich gravy, seasonal vegetables and delicious Yorkshire puddings.

What flavour combinations excite your taste buds at the moment?

At this time of year, I’m getting excited about warming comfort foods for those cold and wet days like hearty stews and slow cooked meats.

Anything new on the menu for the autumn?

That’s a secret at the moment – watch this space or visit us to see for yourself! 


From the clay oven (Pizzas from £7/Pies £9.50)

• Goats cheese, buffalo mozzarella, peppers, spinach and olive pizza

• Parma ham, chorizo, salami, buffalo mozzarella and caramelized onion pizza

• Fish pie with salmon, smoked haddock, prawns, cod, dill béchamel sauce, cheddar mash, seasonal vegetables

• Free range chicken and leek puff pastry pie with wholegrain mustard, white wine sauce, seasonal vegetables, rustic chips

From the grill (Burgers from £7 all served in brioche bun with rustic chips and coleslaw)

• Stuffed Portobello mushroom with pesto, provolone, roasted peppers

• Homemade pork and chorizo burger with slow cooked BBQ pulled pork

Desserts (from £5)

• Strawberry Park waffle with Belgian milk chocolate, fresh strawberry slices and scoop of Roskilly’s vanilla ice cream

• Fruit Fantastic Sundae (dairy free) raspberry, mango, passion fruit and cherry sorbets with passion fruit, cherry and strawberry sauce and fresh strawberries

The Kitchen, Poole Park, Poole, BH15 2SF

Open: Daily 10am - 6pm 01202 742842 |

Latest from the Dorset