FOURty Seconds with Oli Martin

03 Jan 2017
3 min read
FOUR catches up with the talented chef from Hipping Hall country bespoke hotel…

What are your earliest memories of being interested in food?

I wasn’t an early bloomer when it came to loving food, my Mum says i mainly survived on microwaved chocolate sponge for most of my youth as that is all I’d eat! My first actual memory of enjoying food was a simple bowl of Moules Mariniere from a small Italian restaurant when I was about 10 years old, it really opened to my eyes to trying new things, there was nothing it wouldn’t eat after that.

What, or who, would you say has inspired your cooking the most?

I’m inspired by a lot of different things, but I think cooking really does come from your feelings, I never write dishes when I’m in a bad mood. My food is always evolving and changing, but I always take inspiration from my surroundings.

Describe your culinary style…

We cook very natural, clean and pure dishes, we keep flavours precise and meaningful on the plate and don’t over complicate.

What would you say is the main focus/concept for your menu at Hipping Hall?

Our dishes are always based around local ingredients, and quite often there’s a story to why we have chosen to pair things together. We offer three Menus, a 3, 6 & 9 course menu so diners can choose the menu that suits them best.

What do you think makes a restaurant or menu sosuccessful?

Restaurants have to be individual, so often you see dishes replicated from place to place. Keeping things fresh and surprising keeps diners interested and opens them up to trying different things.

What are your most indispensable ingredients?

Salts and vinegars. We have around 10 Different salts and 20+ different vinegars. Two key ingredients we look at when testing new dishes is seasoning and acidity.

Why do you think it’s important to champion local products and suppliers?

Supporting local suppliers is great for community – it’s too easy to overlook what’s around you, on your doorstep. By supporting them you help their business which will in turn help your own.

What kind of experience do you aim to give guests when you cook for them?

I want the diners to feel welcome first and foremost, if you don’t feel welcome you won’t enjoy yourself, you’ll always feel like your in someone else’s house. I want them to enjoy themselves after that, relax and let us do the hard work. My food isn’t ridiculously complex so people shouldn’t feel the need to question everything but be able to understand and enjoy it with ease. Most of all, they are here to have a meal, the experience is an added bonus so people should leave feeling like they have eaten.

You are still relatively young but definitely on the one to watch list, what would you say has been the most invaluable advice you have received or would impart from your culinary career so far?

My previous Head Chef told me “Don’t serve dishes you wouldn’t want to eat yourself”. I think sometimes people have big ideas about food and try and reinvent the wheel. Stick to within your cooking abilities and the those of your team and test each dish over and over until you’re 100% sure you’re ready to serve it; your food naturally progresses so let nature take its course. Of course you should always push your limits just don’t jump past them.

What’s next for you?

We currently have big plans in place for a refurbishment in January which is very exciting, along with teaming up with a local potter for a new set of crockery and tableware, we’ve just opened a private dining room and five more bedrooms and we have further plans for a new kitchen and kitchen garden, so we have a lot to focus on in the next two years and a lot of targets to reach!!

What is your guilty pleasure?

Doritos Chilli Heatwave – I eat far to many of them!!

What restaurant is currently at the top of your list to dine at?

Alinea; I’ve wanted to eat there for along time, I went to a pop they did earlier in the year in Madrid but I can’t wait to get to the restaurant itself.

Find out more about Chef Martinand Hipping Hall here…