Daniel Broughton has developed a conference menu that has health and nutrition at its heart. The executive chef of London's 30 Euston Square, which is run by Searcys and located within the headquarters of the Royal College of General Practitioners, tells James Stagg how his dishes help keep delegates alert and energised
You've been at 30 Euston Square since 2013. How has the offer changed?
I began as a senior sous chef at the opening and progressed to executive head chef. During that time I worked hard on the nutritional side of things and how food affects us. Menu planning now really centres around local sourcing and eating healthily.
How different is it catering for conference and meetings guests compared to a typical restaurant operation?
Catering for GPs [general practitioners], who tend to like to eat extremely healthily, keeps us on our toes. They need to be alert throughout conferences, so we stay away from heavy carbs, reduce the amount of meat in dishes and include more veg. We're always looking at different and interesting ways to eat healthier. We get a wide range of clients here, but everyone wants food that will keep them going. We give them a variety and include plenty of grains.
How does the kitchen brigade find this focus on health?
Lots of the team have gone vegan or vegetarian, and overall the guys are really into serving a variety of food. They're always looking at new ways of introducing healthy dishes that are interesting. We all try to be as sustainable as possible. Chefs bring in apples from their gardens to use in desserts, for example. It's a simple thing, but you can't get any more sustainable and local.
What reaction have you had from diners?
We're trying to change perceptions, so we're putting a lot of effort into making vegetables seem more appealing. People eat with their eyes; any chef worth their salt will always be passionate about appearance. Even if it takes a bit longer to turn a carrot or a cabbage into the star of the show, it gives you real pleasure.
You've just opened the Heritage Rooms to the public. Has that brought an opportunity to be more creative?
With the Heritage Rooms the offer is more bespoke and refined. We've put an emphasis on taste but also tried to stick to our health agenda. We do quite big numbers here, but with the Heritage Rooms we have the opportunity to create dishes that are a bit more elegant. It's great for the team to have that opportunity. We've been having excellent feedback on it, too.
As Searcys is part of the wider WSH Group, you've had the chance to work with chefs like John Campbell. What has that brought to your menus?
I took on a project with the BaxterStorey Chefs' Academy, where Campbell and Rik Razza were my mentors. We came up with the Food EQ project, which came together with the help of two Searcys and four BaxterStorey chefs. It was about eating healthier, reducing meat intake and looking at alternative proteins. This has since been implemented in various sites. It's been eye-opening. I've also been to the Woodspeen in Newbury [where Campbell is chef-owner], which has helped us develop a personal touch with our food, like making our own butter, bread and petits fours.
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