Grand Hotel head chef, Gerard Roser: Why British food has come a long way

The Western lawns and the Grand Hotel Eastbourne September 2nd 2013 E36029P
The Western lawns and the Grand Hotel Eastbourne September 2nd 2013 E36029P

With British Food Fortnight fast approaching on the 21st September it seems that the search for fresh, organic and fair trade produce has become ingrained in our culture.

Along with the rise of competitive cookery programmes over the past few years such as Masterchef and The Great British Bake Off, the great British public’s tastes are increasingly developing into a more discerning and refined attitude with the pay-off being that restaurants have become progressively more competitive and creative with their menus.

Indeed we are a nation who is renowned for our love of variety, with an adventurous palette to match and a melting pot of culinary cultures to tap into. With the vast availability of fine dining establishments and creative chefs on the rise, it’s possible to try everything from the finest spicy delights from India to the tastiest Mexican street food.

That’s not to say we aren’t still besotted with our traditional fayre and it has been uplifting to see how this has been embraced and given the ‘TLC’ it deserves. Here at The Grand Hotel Eastbourne we have spent many hours honing our traditional favourites and using the finest ingredients to create inspiring and delicious dishes, with a modern twist. Our crisp battered fresh plaice with homemade lemon and Tartare sauce and Roast Sirloin of Scottish beef with Yorkshire pudding continue to be huge favourites with our diners.

Fine dining in Britain has seen a huge boost over the last two decades. From the Roux brothers and their coveted Roux Scholarship to the continued rise in award winning restaurants, and Britain being home to ‘The Best Restaurant in the World’, long gone is the image that Britons don’t know what they are doing when it comes to packing flavour and freshness into culinary delights, which are also presented as a visual treat.

While our European counterparts have often scoffed at our stodgy puddings and love for condiments, I think it is fair to say that redemption has been achieved as standards have increased and award winning restaurants, such as The Mirabelle, have spread to every town.

The competition for coveted titles, such as AA Rosettes, is fierce and the bar certainly continues to rise. Only those who can display the very highest of standards and prove that they are at the pinnacle of our profession will receive such accolades. The chance to be awarded with these titles is at the very heart of the motivation of chefs who respect their ingredients and enjoy creativity.

As dining out has become a normal weekly routine rather than a once every so often treat, British diners have shown they are more perceptive to the difference between the good and the great. In turn, restaurants not only need to ensure they are offering up the absolute best in produce and presentation, but service too. Guests now search for the ultimate dining experience and a memorable occasion, not just a plate of food to sustain them until the next meal.

As organic produce and sustainable resources have become easily and readily available; from local farmers’ markets to supermarkets, the British love affair with creating and eating the best culinary creations continues to go from strength to strength. I am sure we can all agree we can be proud to fly the flag for our food.

The Grand Hotel’s next event is the Christmas Smorgasbord which will be hosted in The Mirabelle Restaurant on Wednesday 27th November. For more information, visit http://www.grandeastbourne.com/christmas-smorgasbord