Chef Q&A: Reece Collier of The Grove
Head pastry chef at the Chandler’s Cross hotel and spa on British classics, chocolate, and the future of cakes
Describe your style
We are connected to every restaurant in the hotel, so our style varies. In the Lounges for instance, we try to provide a traditional British afternoon tea with a slight modern twist. As for my own personal style, I like to acknowledge tradition but put a twist that makes it my own.
How do you decide your menu?
When it comes to planning menus I work very closely with the head chefs of each restaurant and we try to plan around the best produce available at the time.
What local producers do you use?
I would say one of the ingredients I am most proud of using would be The Grove’s own estate honey. We are fortunate enough to have hives on site which we can harvest and use – it is incredibly floral and fruity.
Which menu dish do you most enjoy preparing?
For me there is nothing more relaxing and luxurious than sitting down to enjoy fresh scones and cakes surrounded by some of the finest views The Grove has to offer. My girlfriend has recently picked up the bug for afternoon tea so she is currently my taster on all new products.
What ingredient is most important to your cooking?
Currently chocolate is one of my core ingredients. We are very fortunate to have our own unique blends of chocolate that are exclusive to The Grove. As I created the blends, I’m very proud of their unique flavour and these are often used in our menus.
Your best culinary idea?
One of my favourites was worked on with a colleague a few years back – it was a pairing of Earl Grey, milk chocolate, marmalade and burnt toast. It’s a classic British breakfast combination that we put a twist on.
Next food trend?
I think the next food trend has already started – sugar free or low sugar cakes. I think it’s a step in the right direction, but it’s also nice to indulge once in a while, and so shouldn’t be a complete replacement.
What’s in your fridge at home?
Eggs, avocado, bagels, champagne and milk, and that’s about it.
Favourite quick meal?
It has to be a stir fry – probably influenced by my girlfriend, as that’s hers too.
Top three tips for amateur cooks?
1. Make mistakes but make sure you learn where you went wrong.
2. Never be afraid to take criticism – feedback is the most important key to development.
3. Enjoy what you’re doing – it needs to be fun and stress free.
Not so much a cookbook, Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain.
The Grove, Chandler’s Cross, Watford