Chef Dominic Chapman Brings His Food Philosophy to The Relais

Multi-award winning chef, Dominic Chapman has launched a new restaurant at The Relais hotel. Restaurant Dominic Chapman serves classic English dishes using locally sourced and in season produce.

Dominic has lived in the area for 25 years, working at the renowned Fat Duck in Bray early in his career and going on to gain a Michelin star at the Royal Oak in Paley Street as well as Michelin guide recognition at The Crown in Burchetts Green and the Beehive in Maidenhead.

Dominic said, “Nigel Sutifcliffe who is a prolific restaurateur asked me if I would be interested in coming to The Relais. I have a background in hotels, I’ve worked at The Castle in Taunton which is a similar size to this.  I came and had a look and met Grace the owner and the team.  I looked at what they were doing and was asked could I do that – I said I could do it better.  The biggest draw was coming to Henley and being by the river.  The hotel has a beautiful space and there was huge amount of positives.  Having a nice civilised environment is very important to me.  It was a great platform to offer the kind of food we want to offer in this environment.”

Using the right ingredients and at the right time of year is the Dominic Chapman philosophy.  Dominic explained, “Our relationship with our suppliers is key, they tell me in the morning what the best ingredients to buy not just what I ask for if the quality isn’t right.  It is all about the seasons too, when the best produce is available.  British asparagus for example is only at its best for probably 3 weeks in a year, I don’t buy it when it is grown in polytunnels, I only buy it when has been grown outside.  I like to source as much as possible local ingredients.  I’ve recently been cutting wild garlic in the forest just up the hill and added it to the menu that day.  We sometimes compromise from buying local or British e.g. we buy melons from France when they are in season.”

The restaurant menu is changed daily with a set lunch menu for £20 for 2 courses and £25 for 3 courses.  Dominic comments, “Writing menus every day is important to us.  We can choose ingredients that are more affordable which we can then pass on to the customer which is good for them. We want our food to be tasty and generous; a plate of food that is going to put a smile on your face.  We don’t want the restaurant just to be for special occasions, we want it to be buzzy with people walking away saying it was really good.”

Dominic is passionate about sourcing from local farms, he said, “You need to be creative when you buy from a local farm as you have to buy at least half an animal.  You then create dishes that use all different parts of animal and you don’t waste anything as you make stock from the rest to use for the base for sauces.   Sauce is important to a dish; we like to make sure there’s plenty of sauce on the plate.”

What does Dominic most like to cook?  Dominic replied, “I like game e.g. grouse and hare and fish as you can be creative with them.  I love the flavour game of game; roast grouse, game chips and a lovely gravy is a favourite.”

Working with Dominic is Head Chef David Thompson who has worked with Dominic for 17 years. Dominic said, “Dave has his feet on the ground and can work within a budget.  I’ve got a talented pastry chef and a great team, some of whom have been with me for a little while.  We are providing all the food in the hotel so whether you’d like to pop in for lunch and have a bar snack or just one course in the restaurant, we want to offer something for everyone with accessible prices.”

Dominic and the team look forward to welcoming you to The Relais.  Example menus can be found at https://restaurantdominicchapman.co.uk/

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