Hotel Cateys 2017: Hotel Chef of the Year (fewer than 250 covers) winner, André Garrett, Cliveden House
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André Garrett's trophy cabinet already boasts the 2002 Roux Scholarship and the Academy of Culinary Arts' infrequently bestowed Master of Culinary Arts (MCA) title. Now, thanks to his success at Berkshire jewel in the crown Cliveden House, the Bath-born chef can add a Hotel Catey to his groaning shelves. As the executive head chef of the Taplow-based, National Trust property, he has won three AA rosettes, 19th place in the Waitrose Good Food Guide's Top 50 Restaurants, a place in the Square Meal Top 100 and an AA Hotel Services Breakfast Award for the 80-seat André Garrett Restaurant he presides over.
Garrett is a classically trained chef with nearly 30 years' experience, who has worked in some of the best restaurants in and around London, including Orrery and Galvin at Windows, and is well regarded in the industry. Level-headed and meticulous, he is passionate about cooking and the sourcing of fresh and local produce, and hugely motivated by the success of his 30-strong team.
Garrett also oversees the more informal Astor Grill and is responsible for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, room service, and conferences and banqueting. He creates menus for and manages the new Spa Kitchen, a clean-eating, healthy and wellness-inspired eatery, situated in the luxurious Cliveden Spa, which opened this summer.
But it hasn't all been a bed of roses for Garrett. On arriving at the hotel four years ago, he found the kitchen heavily (and expensively) reliant on agency staff. Since then, he has recruited and retained a full team, eliminating agency staff and saving the hefty fees and high hourly rates charged. He has also reduced casual labour by 60% in six months.
Garrett keeps food costs at a healthy 32%, proactively managing ingredients without compromising on quality and standards, and keeps his payroll in line with budget, ensuring his team is multi-skilled and working within an efficient system. His pricing achieves healthy margins, driving gross profit and plenty of repeat business.
A strong supporter of the local community, he regularly attends large food festivals and demonstrates seasonal dishes at events such as Taste of London, the Thame Food Festival and the British Food Festival. On top of a hugely demanding role, he also takes part in a lot of industry events outside of working hours, including judging the Roux Scholarship.
He has a great charitable heart, too, taking on the 100-mile Hospitality Action bike ride every June, and donating a box of handmade chocolates every year to the Chocs for Chance project, which has put 15 young people through crucial work programmes since its inception by his good friends Chris Galvin and Fred Sirieix in 2009.
What the judges said
"André has adapted his style to successfully run multiple outlets at Cliveden House, enhancing its reputation for food." Simon Young
"He consistently delivers a fantastic experience at Cliveden and has succeeded in transitioning out of London. One of only a few to hold the MCA title, André is one of the industry's soldiers, and throughout his career he has delivered exceptional food and experiences." Phil Carmichael
"André constantly and relentlessly pushes everyday dining standards in a challenging role in a very busy and well-known property." Lewis Hamblet
Shortlisted André Garrett, Cliveden House, Taplow, Berkshire
Andrew Green, The Lowry, Salford
Chris Harrod, The Whitebrook, Monmouthshire
Luke Holder, Lime Wood, Lyndhurst, Hampshire
David McIntyre, 45 Park Lane, London
2016 Phil Carmichael, Berners Tavern
2015 Matthew Tomkinson, Montagu Arms Hotel
2014 Steve Smith, Bohemia, St Helier
2013 Sam Moody, Bath Priory
2012 Richard Allen, Grand Jersey Hotel
2011 Adam Simmonds, Danesfield House
2010 Shay Cooper, The Bingham
2009 Kenny Atkinson, Seaham Hall Hotel
2008 Simon Radley, Chester Grosvenor
2007 Hywel Jones, Lucknam Park