We are very happy to welcome our new Food and Beverage Director, who reveals a bit about himself and what we can eat and drink to help us sleep… we are in the month of Sleeptember after all.

Graeme Nesbitt joins Hand Picked Hotels in a newly-created role within the senior management team to provide strategic leadership and oversee all food and beverage operations across the group’s restaurants. He will also take responsibility for the lounge dining, in-room dining and banqueting for wedding guests and conference delegates.

Where did you work before joining Hand Picked Hotels?

I was General Manager at the Lygon Arms in Worcestershire for two years. I now have almost 25 years in the hospitality industry after starting my career as a chef at Gleneagles in Perthshire before moving on to the kitchens at The Dorchester, The Savoy and Claridges in London. 

I actually first joined the Lygon Arms in 1998 as Executive Head Chef before moving to the St Andrews Bay Golf Resort and Spa in Scotland where I spent five years as Executive Chef, then Director of F&B and finally Resident Manager in my first General Manager position. I then took the helm at Malmaison in Edinburgh and Birmingham in 2006, followed by Cameron House in Scotland two years later, The Mere in Cheshire three years after that and then The Welcombe Golf & Spa Hotel in Stratford-Upon Avon where I left in 2016.

Why did you take on this new position?

The opportunity here is phenomenal; with hugely talented chefs and remarkable dining rooms across the group, Hand Picked has all the right ingredients to build upon its stellar reputation for exceptional food and drink. I look forward to driving forward some exciting changes to create new dining experiences for in-house guests and the local community. 

Sleeptember runs throughout September and looks at how you can achieve better sleep, can you tell us what type of fish and meat might help?

When it comes to fish, both salmon and tuna are excellent sources of vitamin B6 which is needed to make melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone. Maintaining healthy iron levels by eating foods rich in the metal, such as red meat can help prevent restless legs syndrome (RLS) flaring up, so steak could be good for aiding sleep, and spinach would be a good accompaniment  as it contains oxalic acid which inhibits iron absorption. It also boasts healthy doses of calcium, and research suggests that being calcium deficient may make it difficult to fall asleep.

And if you are vegetarian?

Soybeans and soy products are the richest sources of isoflavones in the human diet, so tofu is perfect. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body's sleep-wake cycle. 
Avocados are a great source of vitamin C, E, K, and B-6, as well as riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, and they contain more potassium than bananas, so they’re great for carnivores and vegetarians. 

We’re guessing a desert is out of the question?

Indeed, sugar can negatively impact the quality of your sleep. In fact, the more sugar that you eat during the day, the more often you’re going to wake up in the middle of the night. 

I recommend a bowl of cherries, which naturally boost levels of melatonin, topped with yoghurt which is calcium rich and a drizzle of honey for those with a sweet tooth. The natural sugar found in honey slightly raises insulin and allows tryptophan to enter the brain more easily leading to a better night’s rest.

Finish it off with a cup of passionfruit tea – one hour before bed. Researchers believe that Harman alkaloids – chemicals found in high levels in the flower – act on your nervous system to make you tired, hopefully ensuring a good night’s sleep.