Menus which follow seasons not fashion…
Alicia, Head Chef at The Master Builder’s hotel, started her kitchen experience at The
Forest Inn, splitting her time working in the kitchen preparing salads and working behind the bar, while completing her Catering & Hospitality NVQs. With over 16 years’ experience, Alicia has travelled through the ranks of, Commis Chef, Chef de Partie, Sous Chef and becoming Head Chef at Balmer Lawn hotel in 2010.
Along her culinary journey, Alicia has had the pleasure of working alongside Gavin Barnes at The White Star, Southampton where she absorbed some invaluable culinary skills, attitude to work and gastronomic inspiration. Then with Head Chef Julian O’Neil at The Old Parsonage, Oxford, who furnished Alicia with the some of the key basics – people
management, and invaluable organisation and time management in the kitchen, which is key to her role as Head Chef. Six months into her current role at The Master Builder’s at Buckler’s Hard, Alicia continues to carve her culinary reputation, innovating unique dishes for the seasonal menus at the property, constantly bringing innovative ideas to the table – in both senses of the word! She believes that each dish must be well presented but also be full of flavour. In doing this she always makes sure that the team uses as much seasonal and local produce as possible.
Can you tell us a little about the role and what’s involved?
My role as Head Chef at The Master Builder’s is to continually come up with new
inspirational seasonal dishes, sourcing the very best seasonal ingredients available to me. I involve the whole team, giving them the freedom to create their own dishes, they
research what seasonal produce is available to them locally. I’m quite excited about some
new puddings I’m working on for the new Summer menu – one of them is homemade
custard doughnuts with poached rhubarb & ripple ice cream.
What do you love most about the property?
The location is idyllic, regardless of the season the drive to work is stunning and the river view is the icing on the cake! I’ve also got a very talented team of five and an even better working atmosphere. I’m also very fortunate to have supportive management behind me, from the director of Hillbrooke Hotels to Kara our General Manager at the property; this is vital when working as a Head Chef.
Who are your inspirations?
I admire Gavin Barnes, when I worked with him, he always suggested the team should go
out and experience what other chefs have to offer. We ate at Marcus Waring’s restaurant
which blew me away! Contemporary British cuisine at its best! My mum was a definite
inspiration from a very young age… making homemade pizza and the best Sunday roast, I used to roll up my sleeves and get stuck in with her prepping and washing up, then loved eating the end result!
If you could have famous dinner party guests who would you invite?
I would absolutely love to cook and serve dinner to Jennifer Lawrence! But, hand on heart I’d be extremely proud to serve what I cook today to my grandmother, I think she would have been impressed and loved the food I create today.
What can we expect from the properties this year?
Continuing to use quality, local produce with some traditional British classic dishes, with a fine dining twist. The restaurant team work in harmony and with the arrival of our new Restaurant manager Jose, we will move forward and join up the dots on what we’ve
started to create as a team, and ultimately strive to secure a second AA Rosette.