Group Executive Head Chef, Matthew Ashton, has been working closely with Head Chefs from each hotel to create the latest seasonal menus. He tells us a bit about winter dishes at Hand Picked Hotels.

With the change in season providing a want for hearty winter meals and thus bringing with it an abundance of rich flavours, deep colours and mouth-watering smells there’s no better time to indulge in some classic British delights. Group Executive Head Chef, Matthew Ashton gives us his insight into what winter food looks like to him. 



What can we expect to see from a Hand Picked menu this season?

We have seen a change in trends when it comes to dining out; no longer do people want to be restricted by stuffy environments and menus that are hard to understand or inflexible. We've found that guests are seeking an elevated experience when holding a celebration dinner, but not for every day dining. With this in mind we have engineered our menus to showcase local produce and the best of what the season can offer which is easy to understand with a good choice to suit all.  We want people to feel relaxed and enjoy food and drink with us.

What does “good honest British food” mean?

For me, I believe “good honest British food” is to serve food at its best whilst celebrating the flavour, colour and texture as nature intended.  Over the years ingredients have been messed around with, taken apart and put back together again, if you are using ingredients at their very best why change the way they look, feel and taste? I want guests to enjoy the very best of what’s in season so all of our Head Chefs aspire to source high quality ingredients that are produced locally to them for use in their menus.

Is there a local supplier that helps Hand Picked Hotels to bring the best seasonal UK products to our kitchens? 

We work very closely with our suppliers, to me they are not just suppliers they are partners. Together we can provide our guests with the best produce. In particular:

Donald Russell are a beef supplier, but also pork, namely sausages and bacon, which we offer on our breakfast menu at every hotel. For almost 40 years, Donald Russell has supplied beef to some of the best restaurants in the world. Not only that, but the company has won numerous awards for the quality of their meat, and holds a Royal Warrant, granted by H.M. the Queen, since 1984. Our Hand Picked Gourmet Burger uses only the finest cuts – fillet, sirloin and rib – from cattle fed on a natural grass-based diet.

John Ross Jnr. Scottish smoked salmon  with whom we have been working with for over 10 years due to their constant high quality and their sterling reputation, which comes with a Royal seal of approval as they currently supply Her Majesty The Queen. The salmon is ethically sourced from clear Scottish waters and traditionally prepared in the 19th century Scottish smoked house in Aberdeen. 

Direct Seafoods as sourcing fish responsibly is paramount to our business. We passionately believe in promoting wild, sustainable, or responsibly farmed species. And of course, we only ship fish across the country if it is unavailable locally – minimum food miles means maximum freshness!

Sunday lunch is a firm feature of British winter time, what makes the perfect lunch for you?  

Many love the traditional Sunday roast, and I am no different. It’s a time when the family get together and enjoy a great hearty and flavoursome meal. My personal favourite is roast rib complete with crispy roast potatoes, a variety of vegetables and a Yorkshire pudding to soak up the gravy...

What are your top ingredients for winter dishes?

Winter is the prime time for the really earthy and robust vegetables like beetroot, celeriac and parsnips. All of these vegetables can be cooked in many different ways drawing on their natural flavour which makes them hugely versatile and cost effective. 

With providing unforgettable food at the heart of what you do, what does a “good meal” mean to you? 

One of the main things I enjoy most about creating food for others to enjoy is that some of the best experiences are bought together over a delicious meal. Whether that’s a chance to re-connect with a loved one in an intimate setting, sitting down with the family on a Sunday as you dive into a well-earned roast, socialising over a relaxed afternoon tea or sharing a new experience with a group of friends. 

Every Chef’s style is unique to them, how do you manage this at Hand Picked Hotels?  

On each menu you will find dishes put together with individuality and creativity by the Head Chef and their team, born out of passion for providing incredible food. You can’t stifle creativity and passion - you need to embrace it and I challenge the Chefs to inspire their teams in the same way. All of our hotels are unique in their own way, just like our Head Chefs at each hotel and the food they create.  

Explore more of the Hand Picked Dining experience here