Archive for the ‘Kitchen’ Category

L'Ortolan Demo Studio

In 2008 Alan Murchison wanted a new demonstration kitchen at L’Ortolan that would both match the quality of the restaurant and be practical to cook in. He turned to bulthaup Winchester who were able to translate Alan’s vision into a reality. Ever since, the L’Ortolan butlhaup demonstration kitchen has played home to a number of cookery demonstrations and masterclasses run by Sous Chef, Mark Apsey. As a natural teacher Mark is keen to share his knowledge and passion with people who enjoy great food and want to learn more, indulging their culinary passion and teaching them to cook food with Michelin flair.

With Mark’s love for locally sourced ingredients and his passion for foraging, last week’s demonstration topic ‘Summer Kitchen Garden’ was the perfect masterclass for any aspiring Chef. Looking at ingredients that grow locally in gardens and footpaths throughout Summer, Mark showed his willing students an exciting selection of dishes from a beautiful summer berry Mille-Feuille to a fresh tomato Gazpacho. After tasting Mark’s Gazpacho we asked him the secret to creating such a delicious Spanish summer soup.


Tomato Gazpacho Recipe


3kg Ripe Plum Vine Tomatoes, roughly chopped
600g Cucumber, peeled deseeded and chopped
1.5kg Red Peppers, diced
130g Onions, finely chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped
12 Basil Leaves
50ml White Wine Vinegar
25g Salt
70g Sugar


1. Mix all of the ingredients together and place in a refrigerator overnight
2. Place the ingredietns in a food processor and blend until smooth
3. Pass the mixture through a coarse sieve to remove any skin and seeds
4. Season to taste

Tomato Gazpacho


Mark’s tomato Gazpacho is now available every lunchtime at L’Ortolan on our Menu du Jour.

Two courses £28.00

Three courses £31.50

Call us on 0118  988 8500 to make your reservation or click here to book online.


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Nicholas Chappell Head Chef at L'ortolan

L’Ortolan Head Chef Nicholas Chappell is a busy man. When he’s not running the pass during service, he’s creating weekly menus, training the apprentice chefs, teaching cookery demos, and perfecting his dishes.

Nick has been running the L’Ortolan kitchen since January 2012 when he took over from former Head Chef Elliott Lidstone. Nick is very familiar with L’Ortolan as he has worked with Alan and in the kitchen since 2010, Nick’s former postings include almost 10 years at the award-winning Mallory Court.

We stole 10 minutes of his time last week to find out more about the Chef who keeps the well oiled Michelin starred kitchen running so smoothly.

How did you get to where you are now?
By working far too many hours and enjoying what I do. That’s kitchens; you either love them or you hate them!

If you weren’t a chef, what career would you have chosen?
I’d be an artist with a big studio. I studied fine art, sculpture, and print making for 5 years and then ended up in a kitchen somehow.

Who has been your greatest inspiration in your career?
Apart from Alan Murchison, it would be Simon Haigh from Mallory Court, he was also Al’s first boss. I spent 8 years working with him and learnt a lot about food and how it should be. He taught me the classics.

What is your favourite food or cuisine?

Really Nandos?
Yes, really Nandos or a Chinese, it’s comfort food. When you spend all week creating fine food, on a Sunday night for me it’s a Nandos or a Chinese.

Which is your favourite dish on the menu at the moment?
Salt beef salad, because it’s simple, it’s the classic New York sandwich, but we’ve made it very British and it is just a great eat.

Where do you eat on your night off?
Nandos! I also try to get around the country to visit some of the great restaurants. I was up at Sat Bains on Tuesday, and I was at Nathan Outlaw’s at the end of last year. I really like to see what’s going on in British cuisine now.

What is the toughest part of running a Michelin starred kitchen?
Looking after the chefs. They can be a nightmare, it’s like a kindergarten some days. You really have to look after them and massage their egos and get them through the day.


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MasterChef 2011 contestant Annie Assheton impressed the judges down to the final six on this year’s show and now impresses the chefs in the L’Ortolan kitchen. Annie tells us about her ambitions to become a food writer and how dinner on the chefs table led to work experience at L’Ortolan…

Annie Assheton at L'ortolanOne of my reasons for applying to take part on MasterChef was that I hoped it would lead to all sorts of exciting new experiences and opportunities but whilst I certainly wanted to make a career out of food, working in a professional kitchen was never part of my plan. Unlike many other competitors, I had no wish to start my own restaurant, café or patisserie, mainly because it was unlikely to fit in with family life.  As a result, it didn’t immediately occur to me that getting some experience in a top restaurant kitchen would do much to help me achieve my goals of writing and teaching about food and cookery.  But then two things happened in quick succession to make me change my mind.

On my 40th birthday my husband surprised me with dinner at the L’Ortolan Chef’s Table, an experience that I would recommend to anyone.  Not only was the menu incredibly inspiring and all of the dishes we tried utterly delicious, but I was also fascinated by the way the kitchen worked.  Contrary to my expectations it was calm, ordered and quietly efficient.  There were no raised voices, let alone shouting, and the obviously harmonious team worked together to produce beautiful and mouth-watering plates of food.  Elliott, the extremely patient head chef running the pass, must have been exhausted by the end of the evening during which I fired endless questions at him about ingredients and techniques.  Not only did I have a fabulous birthday celebration but I also left wanting to learn a great deal more about how that kind of food was produced.


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It was great this week to have a true athletics legend dining at L’ortolan on our famous ‘chef’s table’ in the heart of the kitchen. Olympic, World, European & Commonwealth sprint champion Linford Christie dined with me for lunch. Linford was at the peak of his career when I was following athletics as a young man (alongside fellow realbuzz.com blogger Sally Gunnell) and it’s safe to say he is a true legend. It was great to talk athletics, food, nutrition, teamwork and our new favourite subject Twitter, because it turns out Linford and I are big Twitter fans.

He’s a great character and still hugely passionate about sporting excellence and given 2012 and his elite training group, he is very much still involved with the sport. Linford like myself is also very much into mentoring and supporting youngsters. So it was great to hear about his plans and ambitions to be working with schools and developing an academy nurturing and encouraging talent and aspirations of excellence. It was also good to get Linford’s reaction to some of the dishes we serve at the restaurant. He is still in amazing shape, (I would easily whoop him over 10 miles though!) and is careful about his diet. As a very keen runner myself, I am fully aware of the nutritional and health elements of all the food we serve at the restaurant.

In fact two of the dishes that I serves at lunch typify the style of food that works for both foodies and athletes alike. Scallops with fregula & citrus purée combine fresh shellfish with high protein and high in complex carbohydrate fregula (ancient type of dried pasta made from semolina from Sardinia). Then I served him a Vietnamese chicken broth with pak choi and steamed sea bream. The chicken broth is flavoured with lemon grass, ginger and coriander and again, it’s low fat, healthy and nutritious. It was great for him to realise that fine dining does not mean cream, butter and fat and that healthy food can also be stunning and delicious!

Have a great week.


Originally posted on Alan Murchison’s realbuzz blog

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For those of you that follow me on Twitter you will have noticed the updates on the process involved in perfecting our stunning sour dough.  Young Dan in the pastry had been looking after his ferment (affectionately called FelicSourdoughity!) and the results were stunning.

We have had lots of interest about our bread and myself and Dan will be running a masterclass on 23rd June and allowing our guests to get a few of the secrets and techniques in producing our favourite bread.

The beauty about sourdough is you require nothing other than apple juice, salt and good quality flour, a good bit of technique and a little love and you can get a product that is truly amazing.  This technique dates back thousands of years, brought bang up to date through the medium of Twitter!

Until next time …


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Nice and busy in the kitchen, we have had a great start to the year, and are now working on a new A La Carte dessert menu which will be on soon.  Stephen has some really interesting ideas for food and wine pairings which as we all know will be as creative and well thought out as ever.

All our new chefs have fitted in well and we had a great lift this week as my old sous chef Phil Fanning won an Acorn Award.  This is a great achievement as only 30 young hospitality  professionals under 30 receive this award annually.  A lot of our kitchen team at L’Ortolan worked with Phil so we all are chuffed to bits for him.  Hopefully we can get Phil back to the L’ortolan kitchen soon to do a guest chef evening and show us how his food has developed over the last 18 months.

Keep an eye on Twitter for daily news from the kitchen @alanmurchison @lortolan

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New Staff at L'ortolan

Mathais, Sabrina, David, Kate, Alan

It’s a great time of year in the kitchen, spring is so exciting – berries, tomatoes, new season lamb, wild garlic and English asparagus.

Less exciting was having no kitchen extraction for two weeks!! Too old for that carry on.

Working with the guys now on a new menu, first changes have been done and now moving onto desserts. It’s going to be a good one!

We’ll also be running a ‘signature’ dinner menu each month to celebrate 10 years at L’Ortolan – great to cook some of the classic L’Ortolan dishes from the repertoire. You forget how good some of these dishes are.

We’ve recruited some great new team members.  In the restaurant we have the lovely Scottish/Geordie David and the smiley Sabrina, say hello next time you are in the restaurant.  Behind the kitchen door we have Mathais and Kate who come to join us after spending a few years with a certain Mr Ramsey.  Mathais has a very impressive CV in two and three star Michelin restaurants.  It’s great we are attracting quality people all the time.

Away to peel asparagus.

Happy cooking.


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