We get to know Simon Roberts, new Head Chef at Woodlands Park Hotel in Cobham. He shares his best creations, his guilty lockdown treats, and a little insight into the man behind the pass.
When and where did you start out in the Chefing world?
Technically I started my career as a chef at the age of 17, but really it was long before that.
One of my earliest childhood memories is being 3 years old, watching a chef in Italy preparing a classic pizza – I was mesmerised. During my career, I have been Head Chef at the Brasserie at Alexander House, before moving to Nutfield Priory Hotel and Spa as Senior Sous Chef. I am very excited to make my mark here at Woodlands Park Hotel.
Are there any chefs that you admire, and who you’d love to work with?
It was a joy and privilege working with Alec Mackins, Executive Head Chef at Nutfield Priory Hotel & Spa, one of our sister hotels. He has taught me many important lessons.
If I could go back in time I would have loved to witness Auguste Escoffier in the kitchen. He was a true pioneer. Also Marco Pierre White, Gordon Ramsey and Tom Kerridge - to have the chance to work with any of these chefs would be a dream come true.
What are your kitchen staples?
A store cupboard item I cannot live without is white balsamic vinegar - I use it in many of my dishes as it’s one of the most balanced types of vinegar there is.
If you had to pick a favourite dish that you have created, which would it be?
It would have to be my ‘duo of venison’, featuring venison fillet, smoked haunch, black raspberry gel, fresh macerated raspberries, raspberry powder, black raspberry jus, baby butter-roasted parsnips, roasted parsnip purée and parsnip crisps. There is no end to what you can create with a few simple ingredients! Keep your eyes peeled to see this dish on a future menu.
Do you have any family favourite dishes?
Absolutely! My Grandmother’s meat pie, with succulent minced beef and rich pastry as the star of the dish. The family recipe has been handed down through the generations, so it is a very special dish to us.
How was lockdown in your household?
I think lockdown was tough for everyone, but we all found ways of coping and making the best of things. For me it was barbequing a lot… sometimes up to three times a day! No matter what; meat, fish, cheese or vegetables, it all went on the BBQ.
Tell us a little bit about yourself outside of work?
I am a husband to an incredible wife, father to two amazing boys, and I also have an energetic German Sheppard – they all keep me very busy. In my downtime I like to read through my collection of cookbooks for inspiration and I am always trying to come up with new and exciting dishes. I am Third Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo and part of a fantastic academy that keeps my family and I very active.
To sample Simon’s work, browse our dining options here.