Meet the head chef at Audleys Wood Hotel Mark Burton, who loves working with regional flavours and seasonal ingredients to create elegant, tasty dishes.
After studying professional cookery at Westminster Kingsway College, Mark Burton kick started his career in the kitchens of various pubs and hotels where he quickly became hooked on the fast-paced environment. After working his way up to head chef at the prestigious East Sussex National Hotel, he joined Hand Picked Hotels in 2015.
Fortunately for us, Mark could not imagine doing anything else – apparently it is a profession like no other. We managed to grab five minutes out of his hectic schedule and among other things discover what he believes to be the holy grail of carnivorous indulgence, his favourite seasonal ingredient and the chef he would most like to work alongside with.
What is your favourite flavour?
I love the flavour of cheese – it is amazing how many different types of flavour you can get through the way it is processed to the length of time it is matured and other flavours being added. It used to be that the French were always the best, now it is the English and I love using our cheeses.
What would you choose to cook with above anything else?
I love proteins, so any type of meat or fish, then building a dish around it. I like to think of classic flavours and then trying to put a twist on it.
If you could bottle any flavour, what would it be?
Wild garlic, it is amazing how fresh and vibrant it is and it is everywhere.
Do you have a preferred item of local produce?
Again the wild garlic – all you need to do is find a canopy of trees and you will often find wild garlic growing at this time of year (May), and anywhere in the country, too. I make sure it is on the menu every year.
What is your favourite cooking method?
Roasting by far, I just love how you can achieve a nice caramelized outside yet inside it can still be rare, soft and full of flavour.
What is your ultimate food and wine paring?
It is not a wine, but oysters paired with vodka and raw shallots are amazing. It is something I tried and was gobsmacked.
Do you have a particular food memory that stands out above all others?
Eating wagyu beef, I had heard all of the rumours about the world's priciest beef and wondered what all the fuss was about, but when I tried it I could not believe how nice it was. It is just incredible.
Which chef would you like to share a kitchen with?
I like quirky chefs, someone like Tom Sellers or Sat Bains, it is so hard to come up with original dishes yet these guys do it daily.
What is new in the food world that excites you?
Goat – it is underused, it is lovely and I hope it becomes more mainstream. There is a lot of waste at a time where produce is becoming more expensive.
What can people look out for on the menu at Audleys Wood Hotel at the moment?
We have a lovely rhubarb and custard dessert. Very simple it is a nice free standing brûlée with textures of rhubarb, which is currently in season (May) so at its best and therefore does all the talking.