Chef Q&A: Niall Keating of The Dining Room, Whatley Manor
PUBLISHED: 12:36 25 September 2018
Niall Keating of The Dining Room at Whatley Manor enjoys showcasing the best of the world’s cuisines to his diners
Name: Niall Keating
Restaurant: The Dining Room at Whatley Manor
Address: Whatley Manor Hotel & Spa, Easton Grey, Malmesbury, Wiltshire, SN16 0RB
Tel: 01666 822 888
What is your earliest memory of food?
My earliest memory of food is eating Staffordshire Oatcakes with the family most weekends.
Tell us about your menu...
We have three restaurants at Whatley Manor. The menu at The Dining Room offers our guests more of an experience. There are usually around 14 servings and the menu is a great way for me to showcase the different cuisines I have been exposed to all around the world. Grey’s Brasserie is a comfortable, modern restaurant with an à la carte menu – the perfect setting for us to deliver British classics. We also have The Green Room which caters for private events, featuring a horseshoe shaped open kitchen giving guests a one-to-one experience with their chef.
How often do you change your menu?
The menus are always naturally evolving and it all depends on the season and the produce that’s available.
Which dish on the menu would you recommend to a customer?
Tortellini black, a squid ink tortellini pasta filled with minced pork belly and finished with a pork fat sauce.
What initiated your interest in cooking?
I first worked as a kitchen porter at a Staffordshire pub when I was 15. I was working in a busy kitchen and from there I joined the Bath Priory Hotel as commis chef.
How would you describe your approach to food?
My approach is open minded, and it’s all about using the best produce available.
What advice would you give to a novice?
For young cooks starting out, I would say get into a kitchen that respects food and work with like-minded people. Give yourself goals and enjoy it!
What has been your most memorable (or unusual) meal?
The most memorable meal to date is Benu in San Francisco, where I was lucky enough to work after that meal.
Which chef has been your greatest inspiration?
Any of the Roux Scholars. They are in a different league and work under such pressure.
What is your favourite local ingredient?
It would definitely be beef. We work closely with our next-door neighbour at Whatley. Tom Wakefield breeds his own cattle – Aberdeen Angus Organic. We take a whole beast once every month and a half.
What’s in your fridge at home?
A lot of protein and vegetables. My wife is the cook at home and she likes to keep my diet in check.
What is your favourite local restaurant?
Paco Tapas in Bristol.
Why should people visit you?
We are on a very exciting journey here at Whatley. We have achieved so much in such a short space of time. When you come to The Dining Room you will be served by the chefs as well as the front of house team. This gives our diners a unique opportunity to interact with the chef who has actually cooked for you.
What would you recommend about the local area?
It’s peaceful and the perfect place for a quiet getaway.
What would you choose for your last meal on earth?