Chef Of The Month November 2016: Ben Mounsey
Thornton Hall - Lawns Restaurant
I started working as a kitchen porter at 15 like most chefs do. Coming from a home where cooking fresh dishes every day was common it was not long until I started helping on the different sections in the small Italian restaurant where I was working. During this time I was considering my options after school and it was not long until I had stopped washing dishes and was working larder, pizzas and pastry whilst applying to go and study culinary arts management at Birmingham University.
I eventually left the Wirral and moved to Birmingham to study, during my 5 years there obtaining my degree I worked for the Hotel du Vin group working in 4 small boutique 2 to 3 rosette kitchens within Oxford, Harrogate, Birmingham and Henley on Thames.
I graduated from university and went travelling for a year throughout Asia, Australasia and South America. This gave me a brief respite from the industry and the pressure of completing my degree; it also allowed me to witness first hand different cultures, eating habits, ingredients and styles of cooking.
On returning home to the Wirral I started working at Thornton Hall Hotel, I started as demi chef de partie but in two years worked my way up to junior sous helping gain 3 AA rosettes.
On leaving Thornton Hall I moved to Singapore to work at Restaurant Andres, a small thirty cover white house with a restaurant on two floors in china town. It was ranked 38th best restaurant in the world and has recently been awarded 2 Michelin stars. I learnt so much about dish composition, commodities and how to orchestrate a unique dining experience. My only regret is that I did not stay working at the restaurant longer.
I returned and began a job at 1 Michelin starred Restaurant Fraiche under the tutelage of Marc Wilkinson. I stayed there for 2 and a half years helping to achieve number 1 in The Times restaurant of the year list and a 4thAA rosette. I worked closely with Marc completing specialist menu evenings and working alongside guest chefs.
I have now returned to Thornton Hall as Head Chef of the 3 rosette Lawns Restaurant, and it is here where I work on creating unique seasonal dishes that awaken the senses and stick in the memory. We work tirelessly on creating a dining experience not just through our tasting and gourmet menus but also a la carte.
We use the best ingredients available without compromise and strive to scrutinise every element of every dish to create something truly special.
Website - www.thorntonhallhotel.com/lawns.html
Rabbit Loin & Legs
250g Smoked Pancetta
2 Cloves of garlic
2 Celery Sticks
20 Button mushrooms
6 banana shallot
Spring of thyme, rosemary, sage and marjoram
Meat glue powder
25 Nettle leaves
- Remove legs and loins from rabbit.
- Roast of the rest of the rabbit body with the chopped veg excluding the mushrooms and shallot at 190 degrees for 45 minutes.
- Place roasted rabbit and veg into a pan and cover with cold water and bring to the boil.
- Leave this stock to simmer for 3 hours and then pass.
- In a pan brown off the sliced mushrooms and shallot and when dark brown deglaze the pan with half a bottle of port and one bottle of red wine and reduce until mushrooms, shallot and alcohol are a sticky mixture in the pan.
- Pour rabbit stock over this and reduce down until a light gravy consistency.
- Brine the loins and legs in the water and salt mixture. The loins get one hour and the legs 4.
- Remove the loins, wash off with cold water for 15 minutes and pat dry.
- Glue two loins together with the thinnest part of the loin meeting the thickest part creating an even cylinder.
- Finely slice the pancetta into strips and roll the lions within that and then in cling film like a ballantine.
- Wash off the legs the same as the loin and pat dry.
- Vacuum seal the legs in goose fat and garlic and cook in a water bath for 12 hours at 75 degrees.
- Remove the legs and pick the meat of the bones in large pieces.
- Mix the leg meat with chopped lemon thyme rabbit sauce and dust lightly with meat glue.
- Roll the meat in a cylinder until it is just under the thickness of the loins and leave to set.
- Pick and wash the nettle leave s and blanch in vegetable stock butter and salt.
- Once blanched refresh in ice water.
- Lay the nettle onto cloth to dry and the lay flat overlapping each other slightly.
- Light your leg meat onto the nettles and roll up within the nettle and the cling film like a ballantine.
- Vacuum seal the legs and the loin separate.
- For service the loin will get 10 minutes at 56 degrees and the leg can be left within the bath until plating.
- Once bathed the loin can be pan fried to crisp up the pancetta.
2x Bunches of chervil.
1x Pinch of Salt.
1x tblsp of glycerine.
250ml of Olive oil.
- Pick down herbs.
- Blitz in Thermomix at number 6 at 65 degrees for 20 minutes.
- Stop half way through to blitz on full power for 2 minutes.
- Hang in muslin and chill.
Black Garlic Emulsion
200ml Veg Oil
12g Black Garlic.
- Whisk egg yolks and soy.
- Slowly add oil and let down with water.
- Store in a bottle for 1 week.
3 Baby corn
- Vacuum seal baby corn all ingredients and steam until cooked for around 6 minutes.
- Refresh in ice water and remove from bag retaining corn in liquor.
- For service blowtorch the corn and cut in half.
2 peeled salsify sticks
50g Veg stock
- Vacuum seal all ingredients and steam for 12 minutes.
- Refresh and retain in liquor.
- For service brown salsify in a hot pan deglazing the pan at completion with salsify liquor to create a glaze.
Tinned Corn Puree
I tin of cooked corn.
- Drain corn and blitz in food processor for 15 minutes
- Pass and season.
Quarter of a nutmeg
250g baby spinach.
- Blanch the picked and washed nettles until really soft some you can mash them between your fingers.
- Pass the nettle from the water and refresh.
- Keep the water used for blanching and reincorporate that into the nettle whilst blitzing in food processor.
- Whilst blitzing also add nutmeg and picked raw baby spinach for colour and flavour.
- Season and pass puree.
1 Large peeled salsify
- Use a peeler and rotate salsify around whilst peeling thin strips of the flesh off.
- Fry salsify strips at 160 degrees until oil stops bubbling and the salsify it crisp.
- Season and drain onto towel.