Norman’s wisdom

The Calverley Grill.
The Calverley Grill.

There’s a new philosophy in the kitchens at Oulton Hall, explains the hotel’s award-winning executive head chef Norman Mackenzie.

Since his arrival six months ago, the current holder of the national hospitality trade Mentor of the Year award has set about changing his staff’s mindset.

It’s not just about celebrating local produce, it’s about seasonal produce – some of which can be found in the grounds of the hotel itself.

“We want to put the countryside back into the country house hotel,” he explained.

“There are plenty really good foraging sites in this part of the world – and even in the hotel grounds.”

This means searching for ingredients such as herbs and hawthorn blossom and using them to bring a unique flavour to the menu; for example guests can enjoy elderflower cordial from blossom grown on the premises. A native of the Scottish Highlands, foraging was simply the norm – and his staff are now all well versed in this noble art.

Seeds have been planted around the grounds to be harvested for dishes for the hotel menus; he cites one lobster dish which contains a total of 18 different herbs, some of which you have to grow yourself as they cannot be purchased ready to use.

“You hear a lot about using local produce these days,” he adds, “but to me it seems like the natural thing to do to use ingredients that are in season and growing right here.”

l Contact Oulton Hall on 0871 222 4690.

l For more ideas on short breaks go to Welcome to Yorkshire –