Cedar Court Hotels’ new Executive Head Chef, Steve Collinson, tells us all about taking on the monumental role of overseeing the food offering of four different venues.
Before taking on his current position as the Executive Head Chef at Cedar Court Hotels, Steve Collinson had had a long history in prominent culinary positions: “I’ve been in hospitality for the last 30 years. Prior to Cedar Court I’d done 20 years with Oulton Hall hotel. At the age of 24 I was doing the Executive Chef job there, so I was fairly young to be in such a good position. After that, I had my own business for a while, and then went into contract catering as a general manager, before going back to Oulton Hall for another five years. After COVID I set up a small wedding venue before coming in here.”
“We’re starting afresh and basically, it’s a brand-new offering for all areas of the business, including the restaurant and the lounge menus.”
Taking on the Executive Head Chef position, Steve set about revamping Cedar Court Hotels’ culinary offering:
“It’s all been about change. The reason that they brought someone with my background into a position that they hadn’t had before was all about improvement, setting standards, and changing the offering during a period of substantial amount of investment into the hotels. We’re starting afresh and basically, it’s a brand-new offering for all areas of the business, including the restaurant and the lounge menus.”
There were some changes which Steve knew he wanted to make as soon as he took over the position: “I’ve worked in the area and I know the group, and I knew that each of the venues were different. My overall intent was about improvement, of both the menus and the standard of what we put on a plate. And we’re adding all the time to what we can offer.”
Steve takes a personal approach when planning the catering requirements of an event: “People are looking for flexibility in this day and age. I sit with people, be they delegates or conference organisers, just to make sure we’re actually delivering what these important meetings are needing out of the events. So, we spend a lot of time speaking to the event organisers to make sure that we nail it on the day.”
When it came to reimagining the food offering, Steve wanted to produce something different than the norm: “You’ll always find a roast beef dinner or grilled salmon with potatoes and veg. We’ve moved away from that. All our dishes are bespoke. There’s no old fashioned standardisation, like there’s a protein, potato, two veg, and a sauce. Those days are gone. It’s about making sure there’s plenty of choice, making sure it’s seasonal, and making sure that the standard is right.”
When it comes to putting a dish together himself, Steve prefers quality ingredients over showmanship: “I enjoy cooking with fish, a really good quality piece of fish, whatever’s good in the market at the time. Or a really nice piece of cheese.
If the quality’s good, whether it’s English asparagus or salt marsh lamb, it doesn’t always have to be about price. It’s about the quality of the product.”