Meet the chef: Loic Gratadoux at the Harbar Bistro

PUBLISHED: 10:49 10 March 2017 | UPDATED: 10:50 10 March 2017

Loic Gratadoux, Executive Head Chef at the Harbar Bistro

Loic Gratadoux, Executive Head Chef at the Harbar Bistro


A great meal starts with great ingredients, says Loic Gratadoux, Executive Head Chef at the Harbar Bistro. His policy is simple: if food is not fresh and in season, it’s not on the menu

After studying at the École Supérieure de Cuisine Française, Loic Gratadoux spent two years at La Table du Lancaster in Paris where he perfected his skills creating Michelin awarded cuisine. After working at one of the finest seafood restaurants in Australia, the Pier in Sydney, Loic came to Dorset. He now heads up a nine strong brigade of talented chefs at the Harbar Bistro, at the Harbour Heights Hotel situated on Haven Road, Sandbanks, creating classic British dishes with an innovative French influenced twist. Loic is passionate about sourcing great seasonal ingredients, and his menu reflects the fresh local produce delivered daily to his kitchen. 

What were tastes and smells of your childhood in France?

My grandparents lived on a farm with a massive vegetable patch, growing everything from tomatoes and green beans to apricots and grapes. They even had a couple of pigs for ham and sausages as well as chickens and ducks. A favourite dish was my grandma’s mussels with onions, breadcrumbs and parsley – she was an amazing cook. 

What are the main influences on your cooking style?

I’m passionate about sourcing locally and using seasonal ingredients that have retained all their flavour. For example, a fully ripened tomato picked in the morning and served for lunch will always taste better than one that has travelled miles. I’m very careful in choosing quality ingredients and never comprise as this will always be the best start to any great dish. 

Do you get involved with sourcing the ingredients?

Very much, this is what I try to do most of all! We are blessed with our location set between the New Forest and the South Coast. We recently visited Lyburn Farm, one of our cheese suppliers, we followed the process from start to finish from milking their cows to making the cheese - it was very interesting. 

Tell me about the Harbar Bistro menu.

We always try to have a good balance between exquisitely cooked classics and more complex unique dishes. Our starting point tends to be British - but then I use my French techniques to cook them. I usually change part of the dish to express my culinary point of view, and my inspiration with the seasonal produce available. With the more exotic dishes our aim is provide the customer with a whole new experience of flavours and pairing. 

What do you enjoy eating at home?

I love cooking healthy meals from scratch for my kids. Knowing they are eating good quality fresh food is really important. For me, my personal weakness is seafood and oysters - I would eat them every day! 

What would be your ideal supper?

It would be shared with family and friends, maybe a summer barbecue or a fondue during the winter, or perhaps a fantastic selection of local seafood paired with delicious French wine - well, I am French after all!

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