It's a privilege to work alongside one of the biggest names on the UK's rich culinary landscape. Steven Doherty was Head Chef at Michel Roux's La Gavroche in Mayfair, London. He then went on to become Group Executive Chef for Roux Restaurants Ltd, overseeing three restaurants and ten other F & B contracts. In 1991 Steven was the fifth Chef to achieve Master of Culinary Arts, the highest culinary and hospitality honour, of which there are only twenty-five in the country to date.
Their love of the area drew Steven and Marj back to The Lake District. They established, amongst other things, two award-winning restaurants, gaining the accolade 'best pub in the country', by The Independent.
Steven is currently mentoring our young chefs as part of the English Lakes Culinary Academy. He has also worked in our kitchen at Waterhead, and together with Head Chef, Adam Graham, has put together a richly tempting menu. We ask him to reflect on some of his past and present experiences...
You’ve worked in some great kitchens, which would be your most memorable?
The restaurant Alain Chapel, near Lyon, France. Probably the best 3 Michelin in France at the time, both Michel Roux Jnr and Alain Ducasse worked there. We all said best kitchen, best grounding we all had. I had particular fun setting up Hawkshead brewery beer tapas kitchen in 2010. We opened before Christmas and it went crazy. It still goes like a rocket!
... and the Kitchen at Waterhead?
The Waterhead is a lovely small friendly kitchen environment in a great boutique hotel.
Adam Graham took over as Head Chef earlier this year, promoted from Sous Chef. It's been a pleasure working with him and giving him a little guidance. He's a young Head Chef who is enthusiastic, pleasant and caring. I believe we’ve made some nice changes to the food operations.
What makes a great chef?
A great chef is born with the natural passion and understanding for cooking and food. Yes, we can train chefs and make them good to become great, but there has to be some inner desire, understanding and natural ability.
Just a few of the great dishes from Waterhead's new menu
Most useful piece of advice from the Roux brothers?
The Roux brothers have given me tons of advice. However, one that has lived with me is, make everything special - a sandwich, a bowl of soup, French fries, scrambled eggs. Give them love and cook them as if you cooking for yourself or your family.
What dish would you recommend from the Waterhead menu, and why?
It has to be the Braised Blade of Beef with roasted root vegetables, creamed mashed potatoes served with a rich ale gravy. This has been a dish that, over the years, I have used in many kitchens. It is featured in my cookery book and on the Great British Chefs website. Fantastic dish to enjoy with the winter drawing in.
How have you found Cumbrian suppliers and local produce?
Lovingly Artisan, sourdough bread specialists in Kedal. (Steven instructing the photographer!)
Cumbrian suppliers have always been good to me and I have been using a few for 25 years. It is key that you understand each other.
You're training the next generations of Chefs, is it easy to identify young Chefs that can make it to the top?
Steven with English Lakes apprentice Chefs
Training chefs, yes, it is easy to spot a rising star. When you are young you don't understand how someone older can see it, but it's not that difficult with the benefit of a few years in the industry.
English Lakes Chairman and Managing Director, Simon Berry, with Steven and the young apprentices
Waterhead's Seasonal Delights
To explore Waterhead's menu further, book at table by calling 015394 30708.
Remember, English Lakes Relish Card holders can enjoy a guaranteed 10% discount off all meals and drinks within any of our Lake District restaurants; not to mention some really great seasonal offers.