Meet the chef: Q&A with Michelin starred Rob Palmer at Peel’s, Hampton Manor
2016 has been a truly award-winning year for Hampton Manor, which has become one of the UK’s most exciting foodie country house hotels.
Located in the picturesque village of Hampton-in-Arden served by direct trains from London and Birmingham, Hampton Manor has helped to further establish the UK’s second largest city, Birmingham, as a true foodie destination.
Rob Palmer is the Head Chef at Peel’s Restaurant at Hampton Manor. His British menus have now won a coveted Michelin Star and 4 AA Rosettes in the space of just a week. Peel’s, which cleverly balances fresh seasonal produce with modern cooking techniques, is open Tuesday to Saturday offering dinner in a relaxed, spacious environment with 28 covers.
Menus include A La Carte, 5 Course Tasting (£55) or 7 Course Tasting (£75), all available with wine flight pairing (£35/£55) by a sommelier. The Tasting Room offers up to eight guests the chance to watch their dishes take shape whilst learning the secrets of a lively professional award-winning kitchen.
Rob was just 27 when he took on the Head Chef role at Peel’s, having made the move from the nearby Forest restaurant in Dorridge, arriving at Peel’s as Junior Sous Chef under Martyn Pearn.
Today, Hampton Manor becomes one of the new entries in the Michelin Guide Great Britain and Ireland 2017. The 4 AA Rosettes also make this one of just 50 UK restaurants to hold the accolade.
Peel’s were also awarded the Michelin Welcome and Service Award 2017 with Michelin event partner NESPRESSO at the live ceremony.
Hampton Manor is family-run with just 15 individually designed bedrooms and suites. The establishment is home to a team whose innovative approach to hospitality, cooking and design has elevated this Neo-Tudor Gothic mansion into the 21st Century.
Derrick and Janet Hill invested in the property and supported the entire refurbishment in 2008. Husband and wife team, James and Fjona Hill who run the hotel, have drawn on their surroundings to create a unique environment.
The property, built in 1855, had fallen into decline when Fjona and James embarked on an extensive 18 month restoration project. Hampton Manor is ideal for beautiful walks across its 45 acres of gardens.
We had the chance to sit down with Rob and disucss the recent sucess at Peel’s and how he plans to build on the prestigious Michelin star.
Q: You’ve been linked to a Michelin star for the last few months. How does it feel to have achieved a star at Peel’s at Hampton Manor?
A: Just surreal. It’s still not sunk in yet.
Q: The Michelin star is the sixth for Greater Birmingham, how for you, has the area developed as a foodie destination over the last few years?
A: Birmingham’s definitely the second city of England in terms of being a food destination. It’s got six Michelin restaurants now, and no other city outside London even comes close to that. Michelin Editor Rebecca Burr even appraised Birmingham in her recent interview following the 2017 awards, and that’s a huge honour for a city that’s been crying out to be noticed for a little while now. The street food side of things is also growing: Digbeth Dining Club and Andy’s Low n’ Slow deserve a particular mention.
Q: Including a dish of yours from Peel’s, give us a foodie starter, main, dessert and cocktail of Birmingham (Dish and establishment).
A: For starters would be Carters of Moseley’s Chicken Liver Parfait with toasted seeds and nuts. They call it a snack but it’s a standout snack that the whole team and I have remembered. Mains we’re heading over to Purnell’s for his Monkfish. This dish (Masala spiced Monkfish with red lentils, pickled carrots and coconut) is a big dish in the Birmingham scene as it was the dish that won Glynn the Great British Menu back in the day. There’s synergy between my dessert and cocktail of choice. I’m going to pick Peel’s’ Chocolate, hazelnut and sherry. It’s not on the menu at the moment, but will be back on soon. A staple at Peel’s. The accompanying cocktail is a chocolate and hazelnut cocktail that I tried in Ginger’s Bar at Purnell’s. I must have had it over a year ago but it’s a winner.
Q: You work at independent, family-run Hampton Manor. Does that allow your greater creative freedom with the menus? Tell us a bit more about the current tasting menu.
A: I have complete freedom. I choose all the dishes and the suppliers so really have been gifted free reign over the kitchen. With our tasting menus we always start with a garden dish, although our walled garden’s still a work in progress, it gives a refreshing start to the tasting menu. Sous Chef Daz’ mallard, celeriac and salt pear is a new dish on the tasting menu as game season’s now on us, it’s a fantastic dish. With all of our tasting menus we want to create a sense of cohesion. We don’t want to place seven completely irrelevant dishes in sequence to our guests.
Q: Within seven days Hampton Manor was awarded 4 AA Rosettes (making this a top 50 restaurant in the UK) and a Michelin Star. What are the plans at Peel’s?
A: To make the top 10.
Address: Shadowbrook Lane, Hampton-In-Arden, Solihull, B92 0DQ / www.hamptonmanor.com