Gemma LeClare has joined the Weston team as Head Chef, heading up all the House and Granary kitchens.
Gemma hails from Newport, South Wales joins the team from her role as a circuit chef working for clients including the The Championships, Wimbledon at the All England Club, Swansea City Football Club and Royal Ascot delivering the finest food for corporate hospitality boxes and high profile events.
She developed her passion for cooking at a tender age, helping her Mum with the Sunday Roast and working at the local pub where her Mum was Head Chef. Gemma will lead and continue to develop three very diverse offerings at Weston Park from the fine dining menus in the House to more casual and relaxed food in the Granary Grill & Deli
Here she tells us about her motivations and plans for the estate:
What brings you to Weston Park?
I fell instantly in love with the House and grounds so decided to uproot my life from South Wales to take on this very exciting challenge.
How would you describe your style?
Traditional British with a modern twist. I am not a fan of foams, drizzles and piped mash potato; to me great food is about simplicity and honesty. I create dishes that are packed full of flavour, have my own interpretation and that can be playful at the same time – for example, my mince pie cheesecake on the festive menu in the Granary Grill.
You head up three kitchens on the estate, all with very different styles. What’s the plan?
I have a talented team who know what our customers want out of a trip to Weston, whether it be a sandwich in the Deli, roast lunch in the Grill or dishes fit for a special occasion in the House itself.
I want them to have an input into the menus and have asked them all to devise dishes for the specials board, if the customer loves it then we will put it on the menu!
I believe in seasonality, quality ingredients and not losing sight of what the customer wants – after all that is who we cook for, not ourselves.
What is your favourite section of the kitchen?
It has to be pastry. I make a mean raspberry and white chocolate tart and am looking forward to challenging my pastry chef Anna to a sticky toffee pudding bake off.
What are you most looking forward to?
Christmas! What a great time to start a new role. I have had great fun writing the Christmas menus for the estate and we have got everything from the traditional to more quirky dishes.
Christmas Menu Highlights include:
Cider soaked turkey with all the trimmings
Salopian citrus gin cured salmon
Festive Venison Burger
Baked brie with caramelised apple compote
Mince pie cheesecake with spiced chocolate and orange crumb
Cherry and kirsch frangipane tart with homemade stollen ice cream
What can we look out for in 2018?
I am hoping to introduce a series of Chef’s Masterclasses however it won’t just be me but members of the team demonstrating dishes on a theme.
I also want to introduce Sunday Brunch in the Granary Grill during the spring months.
Outside of the kitchen what is your guilty pleasure?
Hash Browns! Lots of them. After a busy service I get home and pop a tray of hash browns in the oven then devour the lot.
Quick fire Q&A
City break or walking holiday
Champagne or Prosecco – neither
Sunday Roast or Curry
Crunching through the leaves or beach holiday
Sweet or Savoury
Facebook or Twitter
Films or Box Sets
Late night out or lazy lie in – Long soak, pyjamas and a good film