The Stable just launched a fresh new line-up for Spring/Summer 2018 featuring plenty of vegan-friendly options as well as some very tempting sharable plates. We tried the new menu ourselves and were mighty impressed with the quality of what’s on offer. Keen to find out more about the process that goes into developing a new menu for over 17 restaurants, we chatted to The Stable’s Executive Chef Patrick Campbell to get the industry lowdown..
Patrick, how long have you been Executive Chef at The Stable?
I took over as Executive Chef only two months ago (1st April). I’ve worked for The Stable for eight years and I am the longest-serving member of staff at the company. I’m a real example of the possibility of progression in The Stable. I started as a Kitchen Porter and worked up to become a chef in the original restaurant in Bridport. From there I went on to become Head Chef at our Falmouth restaurant and then went on to look after the group’s kitchens in a National Head Chef role before being promoted to Executive Chef. I couldn’t be more proud after the release of the spring menu. It certainly feels like an achievement.
When developing new dishes, what is the first step you take?
I do two things simultaneously. The menu is a team effort and I’m lucky enough to have a group of talented creative Head Chefs in the company. So, first things first I’ll talk to my head chefs and let them know to get creative and point them in the direction of what I’m looking for. Secondly, I start reading as much as possible. I’ve developed quite a collection of recipe books at home now and they provide a lot of inspiration. Instagram is another great source for all things food. If you’re not inspired enough – you’re not reading enough!
Do you run the new dishes through a panel of tasters before they are put on the menu?
Yes. The dishes go through quite a few development days. First they go through a smaller group of senior chefs in the company. Then we will hold a presentation day to a number of people within the company. This is done quite early to make sure the menu is constantly steered in the right direction. Like I said, the menu is a complete team effort! One of the things I love most about being is a Chef is that you never stop learning & developing. The more people involved in the process often means a better result!
Are there any dishes that didn’t quite make the final cut?
Yes, definitely. We didn’t want anything on the new menu to let down any other dish, so if there was something we didn’t feel was up to the standard it would get cut.
How important is provenance and sustainability to The Stable?
It’s a massive part of everything we do and it’s always been part of our core values. There is wonderful produce coming from all over England & Wales and it’s great to explore it. I’m working really closely with Capreolus of Dorset and in my eyes, they are making the best charcuterie in the country at the moment. At The Stable, we make sure that our suppliers have the same values as we do. You’ll notice on the new menu that the fish may change on our Hooked, Line & Sinker pizza because we want to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to support sustainable fishing.
Did you notice a lot of demand for vegan options on the menu?
Yes, there was a huge demand! We bought in our first vegan menu a couple of years ago and it proved really popular, so this was something I wanted to expand on. I’d love it if we could become the ‘go to’ restaurant for the vegan community.
Are you a vegan yourself? Did you encounter any challenges creating the vegan dishes?
I’m actually not vegan but I’m always keen to learn new styles of cooking. There were a few challenges as I first started out but I bought a load of books on veganism and I talked to as many people in the vegan community I could. This gave me a good base for where we were heading.
What is your personal favourite dish on the new menu?
My favourite dish is the Pot of Gold. For me, it embodies so much of what The Stable is about. It’s a sharing dish and it contains West Country cheeses and Cornish cider with homemade sourdough bread.
When will you start developing the Autumn/Winter menu?
I already am! I started working on Autumn/Winter & Christmas on the day the Spring Menu was released. It’s important to try and work about 6 months ahead to make sure nothing is rushed. It can feel a bit strange working on Christmas & Winter food in May but that’s part of the fun about it.