Executive chef, Graham Noonan-Chatham, is the newest name to join the Down Hall story. He tells Absolutely Essex what we an expect on the menu
What attracted you to the role at Down Hall?
Down Hall is a beautiful and unique property, and the extensive grounds offer so much history and opportunity. The team has invested a huge effort to develop the outdoor space over the past year, and the kitchen garden has been completely rejuvenated to supply all areas of dining which is incredibly exciting. I’m passionate about seasonality, locality and getting closer to the produce that I serve, and can’t wait to showcase this in our menus throughout the year.
Can you explain the new restaurant concept we will be able to enjoy from July?
The new restaurant will focus on what is in season and, wherever possible, the menus will be informed by what we are harvesting from our kitchen gardens. The gardener is writing the menu, essentially! We will change our dishes as many times a week as we need to, to keep everything as fresh as possible. We are also working closely with local producers to source the very best meat, game and poultry. Seafood will be supplied fresh from dayboats across the UK, and we will be working with local foragers to ensure the very best of rural Essex is showcased and celebrated.
What kind of dishes can we expect on the menu?
We aim to do as little as possible to the produce we have, but enough to make it shine and – of course – be delicious and really special. You can expect dishes such as hand-dived Orkney scallops, asparagus, white miso butter, trout roe and citrus; and pan-roasted pork loin, braised belly, date purée, rainbow chard and apple. Desserts will be a big focus for us too – I’m working on a praline feuillantine, raspberries and mascarpone ice cream dish as we speak.
What else are you hoping to showcase in the future? Afternoon tea is a great passion of mine and we will be looking at bringing some of the garden into our afternoon menu later this year. I also love outdoor cooking, so watch out for more chefs outside cooking over real fire!