Behind the Door | 22nd May 2023
Behind the Door: In Conversation with Chef Patron Hrishikesh Desai, Farlam Hall
Farlam Hall, a quintessential British country house hotel, is set in the rolling Cumbrian hills
With the rising cost of trips abroad, a more heightened focus on conscious travel, and as the stresses of daily life continue to eb and flow, visits to the countryside are becoming more and more popular for British travellers.
Guests are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life to greener and more pleasant pastures to relax, recover, and reconnect with nature, each other and even oneself. A trip to the country is synonymous with long walks in the great outdoors, delicious locally grown produce, cosy evenings curled up by the fire or active adventures by the coast. From indulgent spa treatments to Michelin-starred restaurants or outdoor pursuits, there’s plenty to do and see without venturing out of the country, but into the countryside.
Farlam Hall, a quintessential British country house hotel, is set in the rolling Cumbrian hills. An independent hotel that is all about relaxation, effortless luxury, and fascinating stories, Farlam Hall & Restaurant invites you to enjoy a restorative escape in a haven of calm.
Appointed in February of this year, Hrishikesh Desai joins Karen Baybutt to form the new management team at Farlam Hall. In his role as Chef Patron, and with his culinary brilliance, Desai will transform the menu at the hotel’s Cedar Tree restaurant. Passionate about locally sourced, seasonal produce, Desai will optimise the nature available on his doorstep, from Farlam’s own kitchen garden, polytunnels and beehives, he will craft exciting dishes that will not only delight the palate, but that tell a story too.
We go behind the door of Farlam Hall to speak with Hrishikesh Desai, as he gets to grips with his new role as Chef Patron….
You won the Roux Scholarship in 2009, reached the final for BBC’s Great British Menu and have run a Michelin kitchen for several years- what is the source of your inspiration?
My source of inspiration is my motto #hardworkisfun but also, I believe that evolution of an individual is also an important factor in life. I think when you love something, and I am lucky that I am doing a job that I really love, then there is a desire to be the best in what you do. I always draw inspiration from fellow chefs as well as from people who work hard to be the best, and I take stock regularly to ensure I am always evolving and never remaining stagnant.
What does being ‘Chef Patron’ of Farlam Hall mean to you?
It means a lot, a childhood dream! I was just four years old when I dreamt of running a hotel, and now this dream has come true. Most importantly, this is an opportunity for me to be a great hotelier, where I get a chance to work with like-minded individuals and steer them on a path to become the best hospitality professionals. This is a chance to make a difference in the local community by creating good job opportunities for all, and this really means a lot to me.
You are transforming the culinary offering and concept of food at Farlam hall, what can guests expect?
The Farlam Hall's culinary offering is based on three key things - good food, great wine and incredible hospitality. I am also slowly introducing les arts de la table in the restaurant too, which will keep the restaurant skills polished. Guests should expect simple food based on classical techniques with a twist of spice and world cuisine.
How do you think your food stands apart from other chefs in the UK?
All chefs are unique and all are competing to be at the top of their game, plus given the amount of foodie knowledge now available on social media, nothing is hidden. I feel that our use of twists of spice and world cuisine, combined with the best Cumbrian products as well as that from our own kitchen garden makes us stand out from the rest. We do put a lot of emphasis on the flavour, the techniques and eating quality of the dish rather than concentrating on gimmicks and trends.
For a guest visiting you for the first time, what are 3 things they must do during their stay?
I would have to say that the three things guests must do when they stay with us are to explore Farlam Hall and its beautiful gardens, to enjoy a stay in one of our unique 12 rooms or 6 differently styled residences. And finally, to come with an empty stomach to dine at the Cedar Tree Restaurant by Hrishikesh Desai, allowing the restaurant team to take you on a journey of delicate dishes and matching wines.