Molly Miller catches up with Ollie Funnell, the Head Chef behind a new Mediterranean-inspired evening menu at The Brasserie, One Warwick Park Hotel’s flagship restaurant…
This month foodies of Tunbridge Wells will have a delicious new menu to feast on at The Brasserie, which is celebrating the launch of its new selection of evening dishes.
Part of award-winning hotel One Warwick Park, the stylish eatery can be found in the heart of Chapel Place where it quickly became a local go-to for breakfast and brunch since opening its doors last year.
But this March, guests can visit for more than just fresh coffee and American pancakes as Head Chef Ollie Funnell reveals a brand-new evening menu, which has been created using local produce and flavours inspired by the Mediterranean. Ollie tells us more about his culinary vision…
Ollie, we’ve spoken before but for any new readers, tell us a little bit about yourself…
I’ve always loved food from a young age, but it wasn’t until I was 16 years old and working as a kitchen porter that my passion really grew, and I decided to take my career seriously and go to college. I qualified with a Level 3 Diploma and climbed the culinary ladder at The Brasserie’s sister venue, Salomons Estate.
Aside from cooking, I love travelling and took a short break at the beginning of my career to explore my passion overseas. Little did I know these years would inspire me further down the line in my very own kitchen!
What inspired you to become a chef?
I was most inspired when I started to approach cooking as a form of art. Just like a painter uses different textures and brush strokes to bring their vision to life, chefs experiment with new techniques, ingredients, and flavours. It’s not just about cooking, you can be so creative and turn an ordinary dish into, well, art!
How do you go about menu planning?
There’s so much to consider so it helps to bounce ideas off those around you. I work closely with my team as well as our local suppliers. To be perfectly honest, a lot of it is trial and error because a good menu will not only suit the restaurant’s theme but the palate of our customers too, so creativity is key.
You mentioned local suppliers, why is this important to you?
When you put money back into your community, you’re not only supporting a local business but families and jobs too. Sourcing locally is also better for the environment as it reduces the need for so much transportation. And because of less time between farm to table, the food will always be fresher.
Would you say local produce tastes better?
Definitely! Locally grown food has a lot more flavour because of its quality. I often find that small businesses take more time and have more pride in what they grow and produce.
Which local suppliers do you work with?
We get our meat from Southborough Butchers, fresh vegetables from David Catt & Sons in Maidstone, and other produce from Penshurst Fine Foods. Even our fish is caught locally: we source it from MCB Seafoods in Brighton.
Where have you drawn inspiration from for the new evening menu?
I travelled in the early days of my career and visited Spain for work experience so took a lot of inspiration from my time there. I learnt how to use authentic Mediterranean cooking techniques, which I have used throughout the new menu.
What were the most important considerations?
Variety, flavour, and fresh local produce are key to a successful menu. Presentation is important too, so expect dishes that not only taste good but look good too!
What can customers look forward to?
Lots of different flavours and a continuously evolving menu. I want guests to try something different each time they visit, so will be adding two new dishes every month.
And finally, what dish would you personally recommend?
The herb-crusted lamb rack is a favourite of mine. It’s an elegant and delicious choice, heavily seasoned and marinated in gremolata pesto. We serve it with crushed new potato cake and honey-glazed carrots.
Guests can enjoy The Brasserie’s new evening menu every day and can reserve their table by calling 01892 520587 or visiting OpenTable.co.uk