Skye Gyngell, the former head chef at the Petersham Nurseries Café, has been appointed the culinary director of Heckfield Place, a new country house hotel due to open in Hampshire in March 2013.
As well as overseeing three restaurants – the Beckwith, the Restaurant and the Stables – at the 60-bedroom, 18th-century property near Hook, she will also head up a new restaurant in London, which is being launched by the same private investor, Morningside, that owns Heckfield Place.
Gyngell, who achieved a Michelin star for Petersham Nurseries shortly before she left the restaurant after eight years at the helm, has been recruited to her new role after Chris Staines left Heckfield Place, where he was executive chef and director of food and beverage, to join the Abbey hotel in Bath.
She will source ingredients for all four restaurants from the farm on the 400-acre estate at Heckfield Place, which was previously a training centre and wedding venue and is currently undergoing a multimillion-pound refurbishment. It was originally due to have opened in April this year.
The farm will provide rare-breed and free-range meat – such as Berkshire pigs – as well as heritage varieties of vegetables.
The 30-seat Beckwith dining room will be open for lunch and dinner, with sample dishes including Colchester native oyster with sauce Mignotte and sourdough toasts, slow-cooked shoulder of veal with braised artichokes and confit lemon, and blood oranges with honey and rosemary.
A more casual-dining space will be on offer at the Restaurant, where breakfast, lunch and dinner will be served. Dishes will include grilled langoustine with extra virgin olive oil, chilli and marjoram; spiced quail with chimmi churri and mashed sweet potato; fleur de maquis cheese with figs in red wine and wet walnuts; and toasted panna cotta with wild strawberries.
For the Stables, Gyngell has created a staple menu of four hearty dishes available throughout the day, which will include lobster mayonnaise in a brioche roll and slow-cooked shoulder of pork in a sourdough bun.
Heckfield Place will incorporate a 60-seat cinema and an indoor swimming pool, with private health and beauty treatments available in the estate cottages. The gardens are being designed by the gardens adviser to the royal palaces, Todd Longstaffe-Gowan.
The hotel’s general manger, Charles Oak, who was formerly at the May Fair hotel in London, said the property would be somewhere guests would be able to reconnect with “all that is natural, including great food, honesty cooked’.
“We want Heckfield Place to be comforting and true to itself, We don’t want to be formulaic, but intuitive, honest and elegant – it will be a hotel with a soul.”
By Janet Harmer
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