Oli Martin cooks at NRB Chef Live Theatre

Picture of NRB Chef Live Theatre

The head chef at Hipping Hall – Oli Martin – brings his signature foraged dishes to a professional live audience at the Northern Restaurant and Bar Show (NRB).

IT was a real privilege for Taste Hospitality managing director Caroline Wright and myself to be invited to sit at the chef’s table to watch Hipping hall head chef Oli Martin cook two of his foraged inspired dishes in front of the professional hospitality industry.

The NRB Chef Live Theatre, hosted by Brian Mellor of Harthill Cookery School, Cheshire, gives the audience the chance to watch established chefs cook signature dishes step-by- step live on stage.

Martin began working as sous chef at Hipping Hall, Kirby Lonsdale, in January 2014 and 11 months later, aged 26 years-old, he progressed to head chef. Just three months into his new role, he was awarded three AA Rosettes by the AA Restaurant Guide.

His first job was at the age of 14 as a pot washer at the one-AA Rosette restaurant Chicory in his hometown of Lytham near Blackpool. At 19, he went to France to work in the kitchen of a two-Michelin starred trained chef in the tiny town of Elne.

Inspired by their daily trips to the market for fresh produce, he returned and landed a job at Michelin starred Northcote Manor with head chef Lisa Allen, from whom he learnt a lot before moving on to Gilpin Hotel & Lake House, where he progressed to junior sous chef and head pastry chef.

A two-year travel trip to Australia and Asia taught him how to break the mould and rewrite the rules.

“Oli seeks to combine the principles of ‘purity, simplicity and freshness’ to the dishes he creates using amazing local and seasonal ingredients, “says the Hipping Hall hotel website.

“His brief, minimalistic menu descriptions echo his humble, understated and playful nature yet belie the effort and technique that goes into creating each stunning plate of food.”

Oli Martin said at the event: “We are very lucky to be cooking in a really beautiful area of the world with a great choice of produce from suppliers. We are surrounded by fields and woodland so we do a lot of foraging, pickling and preserving.  It’s free and gives us different flavours and textures.”

The three-day NRB show also raised a substantial amount of money for two charities: £20,437 was raised at the Action Against Hunger Too Many Critics Dinner; the NRB Debate raised £400 split between Hospitality Action & Action Against Hunger and the Chef Live Auction raised £500 by auctioning a chef’s jacket signed by all the chefs.

The Dishes:

Oli Martin’s take on Beef and oyster:

Picture of Oli Martin at NRB chef LiveIngredients included: Cured 55 day aged Beef rib – Calotte, plum vinegar (made from plums from the hotel’s garden and described as more of a fermented plum juice than a vinegar); pickled peppery radishes; egg yolk cured in horseradish juice and Lump fish Roe.

The Verdict? The beef tartare was so fresh with a wonderful texture and we were delighted with the egg yolk surprise with a slight kick from the horseradish juice in the middle.

The radishes and beef combo were a match made in heaven. The plum vinegar was subtle and worked well with the freshness and slight bitter note from the Lumpfish roe. We would give Martin 10/10 for his take on the classic beef and oyster dish.

Oli Martin's take on Beef and Oyster
Oli Martin’s take on Beef and Oyster in the handmade ceramic bowls

The alternative vegetarian option was not a disappointment:

Ingredients included: Potatoes, pinch of sugar, salt, butter, and sprouting toasted buckwheat, Yarrow, elderflower capers, orphine leaves, pine oil and goat yogurt curd

The potatoes were supplied from Carroll’s Heritage Potatoes, Tiptoe Farm in Northumberland. They were peeled and a stock made from the roasted skins and malted wheat flakes.

The potato stock is also used to make fudge!

The curd is made make from Goat Yogurt sourced from Yellison Goat Farm in Yorkshire. Martin heated the yoghurt to 60 degrees until it split. Once it has split it was hung for about two hours to enable the curds to separate from the whey. The curd is then blended until smooth and light.

As for the Elderflower capers: “We waited until the elderflower goes past the flowering stage and begin picking just as it starts to turn into fruit,” says Martin.

“It’s the worst job you can do. Hours of work but it’s worth it, as you can’t buy the capers in the shop. These capers were picked on 21 August last year.”

Even the bespoke bowls this dish was served in are locally made at Miles Moore Ceramics in Lupton, Lancashire.

skyoghurtoliThe Verdict? It’s impossible to describe the taste bomb of this dish. It certainly can’t be done with one mouthful. The quality of ingredients was key to its success. The Tiptoe potatoes were silky and soft with a beautiful buttery glaze. The stock gave an earthy flavour. The elderflower capers brought a taste of summer to the dish, combined with a freshness, acidity and creaminess.

The buckwheat and orpine leaves gave a freshness and texture, with a lemony acidic feel, enhanced by the sprouting toasted buckwheat, twang from the yarrow and zingy burst of the preserved pine oil and beautiful mouthfeel of the curd. Brilliant!

Both of these dishes are available on the Hipping Hall Hotel restaurant nine-course dinner menu (vegetarian or meat and fish option).

Hipping Hall
Cowan Bridge
Kirkby Lonsdale, LA6 2JJ
T +44 (0)152 427 1187

Hipping Hall


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