Interview with Lee Stainthorpe, Head Chef, The Morritt Country House Hotel
As someone who enjoys cooking and could never see himself sitting in an office from nine to five, becoming a chef seemed logical to Lee Stainthorpe, head chef at The Morritt Country House Hotel which boasts Gilroy’s Dining Room as its restaurant and was awarded 2 AA Rosettes in 2013.
After leaving school in the late 80s, Lee spent three years training at Darlington Technical College before carving out a career spanning almost 25 years, cooking in numerous hotel and restaurant kitchens throughout the north east and north west of England.
“When I started in this industry, celebrity chefs such as the Roux brothers and Anton Mosimann were the old masters,” says Lee. “Then, with the emergence of Marco Pierre White, the industry was turned on its head and chefs suddenly had rock star status. The industry was in your face and here to stay.”
Although he doesn’t pick out any particular individual as an inspiration, Lee has a large collection of books from a wide range of different chefs. “I look at them all in the same light,” says Lee.
He describes the approach to food in Gilroy’s Dining Room at The Morritt as, “Classical flavours with modern twists and techniques.” Although prepared with a great amount of creativity and inspiration, the food and flavours in the restaurant are still recognisable to customers.
“The dining experience is about the dining room and overall ambience as well as the food served,” explains Lee. “We’ve created a relaxed venue for guests to enjoy their whole evening. From the initial introduction from food and beverage manager, Dan Moult and his team, right through to finishing with coffee and petit fours, we put an emphasis on our guests’ complete experience.”
Fresh, locally sourced ingredients are important to Lee and he finds inspiration from what is currently in season and what he feels guests would like to see on the menu. The menu is changed with the seasons to take advantage of the best produce and classic or popular dishes are re-visited as required.
“I don’t favour any particular ingredients,” says Lee. “As long as they’re fresh and in season then they will be considered for our dishes.”
Gilroy’s Taste Nights are one of the latest opportunities for guests to try an 11-course tasting menu of dishes created through Lee and his talented team’s approach of using freshly prepared, locally sourced seasonal ingredients.
Lee explains the concept behind the event as, “An opportunity for our guests to enjoy a food experience they may not have had before. From the food, the flavours, the presentation and the little bits of theatre thrown in, I’m sure guests will leave thinking and talking about the evening for a good while afterwards.”
The next Gilroy’s Taste Nights take place on Friday, February 27th and Saturday, February 28th in Gilroy’s Dining Room at The Morritt. The 11-course tasting menu is £55 and special overnight accommodation offers, including the tasting experience, are available from £199 per couple. For more information or to book, please call 01833 627 232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lee Stainthorpe, Head Chef at The Morritt Country House Hotel