Chef Q&A: David Humphreys, Stanbrook Abbey
PUBLISHED: 16:44 19 August 2019 | UPDATED: 16:44 19 August 2019
With a restaurant that sits in Stanbrook Abbey's original nun's dining hall, David Humphreys' modern British menu is a heavenly experience
Name: David Humphreys
Restaurant: The Refectory Dining Room & Terrace
Address: Stanbrook Abbey Hotel, Jennet Tree Lane, Callow End, Worcester WR2 4TY
Tel: 01905 832940
What is your earliest memory of food?
Becoming a chef was a no-brainer for me as I was born into a family of caterers who were all passionate about food. For me, my early intrigue grew into a love of combining ingredients to become creative with my style of cooking. I found it challenging, and this excited me - taking firm family favourites and turning them into something creative and reflective of my style and personality, which lead me to where I am today.
Tell us about your menu.
My menu is subtle and features fresh, seasonal ingredients that have been sourced from local suppliers wherever possible and carefully prepared to maintain their natural integrity. I have a great relationship with local butchers and farmers and enjoy cooking with their produce - the flavour and quality speaks for itself!
How often do you change your menu?
We change the menu based on what's fresh and available from our suppliers each season, to use them at their nutritional best. We also design our menu around certain themes and days of the year, making the menu vibrant and keeping it refreshed.
Which dish on the menu would you recommend to a customer?
The Welsh rump shoulder of lamb, carrots textures, fondant & burnt shallot - because it demonstrates what can be done with simple flavours and local ingredients combined.
How would you describe your approach to food?
Flavours are everything; I want my guests to be excited by the menu and leave knowing their palette has been truly indulged with fine food. My modern British-inspired menu combines classic flavours with a creative twist, keeping things uncomplicated yet surprising!
What advice would you give to a novice?
Don't be afraid to test the palette, and always experiment with food. I say to myself trial and error is the best approach for learning; something so simple can be so delicious, so I just keep exploring new ingredients, developing new dishes, and experimenting with different flavour combinations.
What's your favourite local restaurant?
Originally I'm not from around the Worcester area, so it wouldn't be fair to select a favourite local restaurant out of the few I have been to. There are so many great places to eat around this area, so during my time out of the kitchen I am slowly making my way around!
Which chef has been your greatest inspiration?
The first fine dining chef I met was head chef Jason Hornbuckle, whose dedication and technical ability changed the way that I looked at food. He inspired me to consider every single ingredient rather than just the finished dish.
Why should people visit you?
Stanbrook Abbey is a beautiful hotel with a home-from-home feel, and at the very heart of the hotel sits The Refectory Dining Room & Terrace. We're really proud of the restaurant - it was part of a multi-million pound refurbishment designed with a modern finish that elevates the heritage features throughout the building and the dining room itself. There is a real sense of history in the dining room as it is in the site of the nun's original dining hall, with the hand-carved wooden pulpit still an original feature dominating one end of the room. At the other end, there are doors out to a terrace at the front of the hotel, so it's a tranquil space. The food I create is modern British, which sits comfortably within this very special renovation of the 16th-century hotel. It's definitely an experience rather than just a meal… it's part of history!
- Spiced butternut, baby gem, rocket, pomegranate, chilli & lemongrass dressing (v) - £7/13
- Pressing of Old Spot ham, pea puree, focaccia crisp, gherkin, wholegrain mustard - £7
- Welsh lamb rump, shoulder, heritage carrot textures, fondant & burnt shallot - £25
- Gressingham duck breast, confit leg, red cabbage puree, srpoting broccoli, skirlie - £21.50
- Mushroom & truffle risotto, seasonal wild mushrooms, truffle, rocket (v) - £8/£14.50
- Dark chocolate & orange parfait - £9
- Honeycombe apple & rhubarb, poached rhubarb, caramelised apple, rhubarb & gin sorbet, honey granola - £9
To find out more, and to book your table, visit handpickedhotels.co.uk/stanbrookabbey.