The executive chef director at the Belfry Hotel & Resort, Glen Watson has worked with some of the food world’s greatest names – but give him good old toad in the hole with onion gravy any day!
Tell us about your cooking
Despite having worked in the industry for more than 30 years, no two days are the same. I’m essentially classically trained though hotels such as The Savoy and Georg V Paris. Coming from Scotland where there is an abundance of quality produce has certainly shaped my cooking style and been reflected in what we serve here at The Belfry. There’s the French influence too having worked with the Rouxs for seven years. The base of all the best cooking is following the basics correctly.
How did you become a chef?
I fell into it actually. At school I was good with numbers and accountancy was part of my studies. As a teenager I needed to earn money so I worked in a local family-run hotel, peeling and prepping vegetables and making basic desserts. I guess my mother’s flair as a dress designer and maker is where my creativity in the kitchen comes from. Early in my career I didn’t have influences as such but after visiting Gleneagles for a trade fair I just knew I had to work there. I was mentored by Alan Hill and then Anton Edelmann, both ex-Mossiman, and a family by the name of Roux!
What do you eat when at home?
We eat simply but well. If it’s good weather, the BBQ is always lit. And if our neighbours smell the charcoal then it soon ends up being a gathering. I could eat chicken caesar seven days a week but my favourite by far is toad in the hole with a great onion gravy and mash – with as much butter in it as the potatoes will take! Plus a drop of red wine to wash it down.
Who’s the best chef in the world and why? And who’s the best in Brum?
That depends what food style you like. If you ask me the best hotel stay I’ve ever had, it has to be Raymond Blanc’s Manoir aux Quatres Saison, together with an amazing breakfast. Best dinner, the Fat Duck. My overall favourite place to dine is Mossimans club in Belgravia. As for in Brum – I haven’t dined in everyone’s restaurant so it would be unfair to comment.
Is the customer always right?
It is their opinion that matters as they are the ones paying the bill and you want to ensure that they return.
What was your favourite food as a kid?
Toad in the hole and rhubarb crumble and custard
Food heaven and food hell?
Heaven is Iberico ham with a glass of fine French wine. Hell is tripe.
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten?
When I was at the George V, I tried a ragout of sheep’s brain and spinal cord. You may have noticed it didn’t reach my food heaven list!
Share a cooking tip
Invest in a bottle of high-quality olive oil. Just a small drizzle can really bring out the flavour of pizza, mozzarella, pasta, fish and meat.
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?
Pretty unimaginable but I can build engines and cars, so perhaps a mechanic! Or back to my school plan before starting to peel potatoes, an accountant.
What do you recommend from this evening’s menu?
We have just launched a new a la carte menu in the Ryder Grill, so there is an endless list of mouth-watering options but a timeless classic is the 28-day aged chateaubriand with all the garnish and lashings of sauce béarnaise.
Try Glen’s recipe for Seared scallops, pea puree and chorizo
- 12 Scallop roe off
- 80gr Chorizo Stick
- 120gr Pea Puree
- 100ml White wine butter sauce
Pea puree ingredients:
- 350gr Peas Freshly popped
- 150gr Shallots Banana
- 5gr Garlic String
- 50ml Cream Double
- 10ml White Wine
- 2gr Salt
- Herb Mint
- Sweat off finely chopped onions for 2 minutes
- Add crushed garlic and sweat for another minute
- Add white wine and reduce by half
- Add cream and reduce to coating consistency
- Mix in peas and puree, and add chopped mint
- Use as required
White wine butter sauce ingredients:
- 150ml White Wine
- 40gr Shallots Banana Long
- 100ml Cream Double
- 40gr Butter Unsalted
- Squeeze Lemon
- Place the shallots in a sauce pan, add the wine and reduce to a glaze.
- Add the cream and bring to a simmer.
- Add the butter a little at the time and stir until all incorporated.
- Add the salt.
- Pass the sauce through a fine sieve.
- Keep warm.
To serve the dish:
- Grill chorizo until crispy or in medium heated oven, allow to cool and finely dice half and the other half into fine strips
- Season scallops with salt and place in hot non-stick pan with a splash of olive oil, aute until golden brown, turn and place a knob of butter and a squeeze of lemon into pan until foamy
- Remove and drain
- Spoon warm pea puree onto dish
- Place diced chorizo followed by scallops
- Drizzle with butter sauce and finish with strips of crispy chorizo
- Serve immediately