Talking food with MasterChef runner-up Elly Wentworth from The Angel in Dartmouth
Wagamamas and a Wispa may be what it takes to please this inspiring chef on a personal level but don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll be getting anything but fine, fresh delicacies at The Angel.
After stints at the Michelin star awarded Restaurant Hywel Jones rising to sous chef, working with the Tanner brothers in Plymouth and placing runner up on MasterChef: The Professionals, Elly Wentworth had an opportunity to head up her own team at the renowned Dartmouth foodie destination, The Angel. Previously a Michelin star holding restaurant, the fine dining restaurant needed a new direction, and this is where Elly has stepped in.
We sat down with Elly to talk about her career and discuss her ambitions and ethos at this South Devon delight.
So Elly, tell us a little bit about yourself career wise?
Well, I started off as a KP in a local pub where I lived, one night they needed help in the kitchen and, from there, I found a passion for cooking. After studying at Plymouth City College I have had some amazing opportunities to work with some great chefs and mentors over the past 10 years like the Tanner Brothers, Simon Hulstone from The Elephant in Torquay, Richard Davies at the Manor House in Castle Combe and Hywel Jones at Restaurant Hywel Jones Lucknam Park
Who were/are your main influences for seeking out a successful career in this renowned tough industry?
Both Chris tanner and Hywell Jones have really encouraged and inspired me to keep advancing. It was Hywell who suggested I apply for Masterchef. Monica Galetti has also been a huge influence as a top female chef in the industry and one of my Judges on Masterchef.
What changes have you made since joining The Angel – how are you putting your stamp on the place?
The main change I have made is the menu; introducing a tasting menu. I think also having a large majority of my chefs as female is hugely important to me in a male dominated industry, I want to help inspire and mentor young female chefs. Continuing the legacy of Joyce Molyneux, I want to make The Angel a foodie destination again.
What are the most important elements for you when crafting a menu?
For me it is about using local produce and adapting to each season, using the produce to create the best flavour possible but not over complicating it. Simple but effective.
Do you have a favourite time of year or set of ingredients that you look forward to working with?
I love autumn because of all the different ingredients you get at that time of year, all sorts of game like venison, grouse and duck.
Do you have a signature dish?
I’d say the Beetroot Tart Poppy Seeds and Goats curd is one of my signatures, it has been on The Angel’s menu since the beginning and Dulse Cured Salmon with Crispy Oyster and Watermelon, which I have created at a few big events.
What is your favourite dish to cook and why?
Roast pork belly as it is a favourite of my family and when I normally cook it it’s because we are having a family meal and it is great to catch up with them.
Do your personal preferences influence the menu at all?
Every chef says no and I try to make sure there is a wide variety of flavours and options on the menu but I think I’d be lying if I said I didn’t choose some dishes or flavours based on my personal favourite.
What it is about the South West, and more specifically, South Devon that you enjoy and also find difficulty with when it comes to the restaurant industry?
I love the wide variety of produce that Devon has to offer, like fish, sea vegetables, local breeds of Sheep and working with local businesses and producers like Dartmouth Butchers and Kingfisher Brixham. When it comes to difficulty I think it would be the seasonality of Devon and the remoteness of the location but I see that more as a challenge to overcome.
How did competing in master chef the professionals affect your career?
It greatly affected my career and life, the amount of people who come to The Angel now and say they remember seeing me on TV in 2016 is unbelievable and very humbling. It has created more opportunities for me from doing guest nights at other restaurants, being promoted at Lucknam park to sous chef and then being offered to take on the head chef role at The Angel. I’ve still had to work hard to get here as, although the spotlight on television helped raise my profile, I still want to and have to be able to back it up with my skill and knowledge
What is the future for The Angel? Are you aiming for the elusive Michelin star?
As I’ve said previously I want to continue the legacy of Joyce Molyneux and make the Angel a successful restaurant, I’m concentrating on the quality and consistency, if we get accolades on the way that’s a bonus but making The Angel successful and pleasing guests comes first.
Where is your favourite place to dine? Excluding The Angel, of course!
While I lived in the Cotswolds I loved dining at the Pig in Bath and, of course, my old place of work Restaurant Hywell Jones. I haven’t really had the chance to find any favourites down here yet.
What’s your favourite takeaway?
It’s got to be Wagamama’s bang bang cauliflower.
And your favourite comfort food?
Anyone who wants to keep me happy knows it’s a Wispa Bar.
To book a table visit theangeldartmouth.co.uk