Bringing something new to the table at Eshott
Eshott’s Head Chef Dan Curtis may have only been in post for a few months, but he brings year of experience to the role. After spending five years as Sous Chef at our sister property, Doxford Hall, Dan and his wife embarked on a new venture to run The Widdrington Inn in nearby Morpeth. With eight years under his belt, it was time to return to his fine dining roots at Eshott. Now with responsibility for Eshott’s two AA rosetted restaurant catering for hotel residents and a consistent stream of weddings, his passion for authentically produced seasonal produce shines through in his menus.
What brought you to Eshott Hall?
I came here as a wedding guest and fell in love with the place! We were about to sell the pub and I was keen to focus on fine dining once again – it seemed like the perfect opportunity. Having worked at Doxford Hall Hotel, I hoped that I’d be a good fit for the company, and it all worked out!
Did you always want to be a chef?
Yes, I honestly cannot think of anything else I’d rather be doing. My dad was always a great cook, very adventurous and creative in the kitchen and we used to cook at home together. He never made a career out of it, but he inspired me nonetheless.
What do you take inspiration from when creating a menu?
I watch a lot of food shows on the television, I dine out regularly, and read a lot about food trends and the pairing of ingredients. I love to ‘eat the seasons’ and Shaun, our Head Gardener here at Eshott supplies us with goodies that we include as much as possible in our menus. For example we currently have his fantastic courgettes on the menu as stuffed courgette flowers, his homegrown cucumbers are used in our cucumber panna cotta with crab from nearby Craster. Then there’s the pears for the pear tart tatin, sweet cherry tomatoes. The list goes on…
Where do you source local produce?
We’re very lucky to have so much beautiful produce grown right here in Northumberland aside from our own kitchen garden. The Cheese Shop in Morpeth supplies us with some fantastic English cheeses, such as a phenomenal Mordon Blue which is used in our dauphinoise potatoes alongside our venison. There’s Davidson’s Dairy, a family run business up the road in Alnwick who provides us with fresh milk, cream and eggs. Our meat and poultry come from Warren Butterworth’s in Newcastle from carefully selected local farmers.
Favourite ingredient to cook with?
I do enjoy cooking with cheaper cuts of meat such as oxtail or pork cheek, giving it a bit of love and turning it into something really special.
Proudest career achievement?
There have been a few but some stick in my mind. I was Sous Chef at Doxford Hall when they won their first AA rosette many years ago – there was such a buzz in the kitchen that evening.
Then there are moments from the eight years running the pub. We brought on a pot washer in the early days who progressed with training to become Head Chef just as we sold the pub. He’s now working for me at Eshott as our Junior Sous Chef. It’s wonderful to see how far he’s come.
Favourite dish on the menu this season?
I love the venison. It’s served with a pear tart tatin using pears from the walled garden at Eshott, a blue cheese dauphinoise and textures of pear.
What do you like to eat at home?
It’s varied. We love Japanese and Asian cuisine and really enjoy eating fine dining style food at home. I often spend hours in the kitchen on my day off! My wife is particularly partial to a cote to boeuf too so that’s quite often on the menu at home.
Team savoury or team sweet?
Team savoury, but if I’m going to have something sweet then it’s going to be sickly sweet!