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- Thursday, 23 July 2015 20:39 | Written by Matthias Tesi Baur
1. Tesi: Dear Barny, you are the Owner and Manager of the restaurant The Dysart in Richmond / United Kingdom. Can you please tell me about the concept and history of your restaurant?
Barny: The Dysart has always been a family project – we took over in 2004, and have simply tried to keep improving since then – we shall continue to do so! The concept is simple – real hospitality and welcome, a comfortable and relaxed dining room, a kitchen team that cut no corner and spare no detail in what they create, and a commitment to making the most of our wonderful surroundings.
The change The Dysart has seen over the last 11 years is significant – we took over a pub known for its “whale and chips” (fish and chips!) and have step by step developed and improved the place to reflect our own passions. There is so much that can be thought about, and so much that we feel we still have left to do! For me, as I mentioned before, a huge aspect is in the welcome and hospitality – really looking after guests, understanding their needs, making a real difference to their time here. Our head chef Kenneth, who joined us 4 years ago, has brought with him amazing skills – classical training, knowledge of the finest ingredients both local and from further afield, as well as an unwavering determination to make his mark on the culinary world. Making the most of the wonderful area we have around us – foraging and embracing the wonderful local produce we have access to. We then factor in our music – restaurant music every Thursday, Friday and Saturday and concerts once a month on a Sunday, both using our beautiful 1897 Bechstein, and hopefully we are doing something quite unique.
2. Tesi: I have seen on your website that your menu offers a wide range of culinary British delicatessens. Please describe what exactly you are creating and how you get your inspiration?
Kenneth: Working in the Loire Valley with two Michelin-starred chef Pascal Bouvier was a period of enlightenment for me, especially in his celebration of vibrant, flavoursome and inspirational produce, and the use and understanding of the best seasonal produce available around him. It was the most intense and consistent approach, informed by thoughtfulness and joy in food and flavour, that I had ever experienced up to that point as a chef. We would go to the local markets twice a week and all the farmers would make sure that they always presented the finest produce to Pascal because of his passion and perfectionism.
This environment instilled in me an even greater respect for nature and working with it.
Now with our menus at The Dysart Petersham we aim to celebrate the wonderful local fresh produce our gardener brings us in the mornings, as well as foraged produce from the local wild lands. A wonderful example of this is our local asparagus – when in season picked just before lunch every day, and on our lunch menu within the hour! This approach is augmented with specifically sourced ingredients from a little further afield, particularly from The Rungis Market in Paris – a source from which we have found the quality to be second to none.
Technically the menus are based in French tradition, with a notable influence of the flavours of Asia – inspiration taken on board from many of my previous travels and kitchen positions, particularly my time cooking at Tetsuya in Sydney.
3. Tesi: What is your favourite dish and whish memories do you connect with the dish?
Barny: My favourite dish has to be Longhorn beef with miso mustard sauce and heritage carrots – a signature dish here at the Dysart, and one I struggle not to choose every time I sit down to dine here! This dish really sums up and reminds me of our development at The Dysart – and tasting it for the first time was probably the moment I really realised quite what a talented chef we had in our kitchens and how much fun we could have together trying to make The Dysart as good as it possibly could be! A wonderful dish to have fun with wine matching too! At the moment we serve it with Manzanilla sherry…
4. Tesi: Barny, the Dysart has under your management a history of 11 years. I sure you are looking back to these years full of memories. What is the most unusual moment or event you experienced with your guests?
Barny: Well that is a difficult one!
We hosted a concert a couple of years ago, a wonderful baritone and piano recital of the Schubert song cycle Die Schöne Müllerin. A sell out audience and an outstanding performance from Jonathan Sells and Simon Lane. After the concerts we always serve dinner, and one of the groups had let me know that their daughter was celebrating her birthday so I asked Jonathan and Simon if they might perform happy birthday when the lady’s dessert arrived with a candle. Of course they were happy to oblige, but as they started, a few of their friends who had come to listen to the concert (who just happened to be concert singers) also joined in, resulting in a quite breath-taking harmony of “Happy Birthday”, all completely unexpected and unrehearsed! The whole restaurant stopped in their tracks and listened, and then applauded! The birthday girl was completely taken aback! It really was a magical moment.
5. Tesi: Kenneth, What does good food mean to you?
Kenneth: The importance of good food started at home for me, with the sharing of time preparing and enjoying meals as a family - simple cooking of lovely ingredients.
Ingredients are absolutely integral, and my research and experience has shown me that even more. It is possible to do very simple things with amazing produce to make it really sing!
In the restaurant we still aim to reflect that simplicity and purity, augmented with techniques and craft that I have learned over the years, and with every small detail given our full thought and attention in a manner that would rarely be possible in a home kitchen. A little “theatre” on the plate or at the table is a wonderful finishing touch to making the most of wonderful produce.
Above all, good food is about people, times shared and experiences enjoyed together.
Matthias Tesi Baur
For more information please visit: www.thedysartpetersham.co.uk
Biography Barny Taylor
Raised in Petersham for much of his life, Barny, a former pupil of Westminster School, has a degree in music. Music still plays a large part in his life at The Dysart, organising the regular recitals on the first Sunday evening each month and the understated, live music which accompanies diners in the latter part of the week.
Barny loves good food, good wine, welcoming guests and friends around a good table. His wine pairing skills and head chef Kenneth Culhane’s skills and judgement in cooking are a good partnership. There is a natural affinity between them, creating an instinctive and self-supporting team. Preparing for the regular wine dinners always causes excitement, tasting and selecting the wines with the maker together, discussing flavours and suitable matches together and then arriving at a menu and wines which sing together.
Kenneth learned his craft with some of the world’s finest chefs, Guillaume Le Brun at Patrick Guilbaud in Dublin, Maître Cuisinier de France, Pascal Bouvier at Le Choiseul in the Loire, each a 2-starred Michelin chef, and with Tetsuya Wakuda in Sydney, with 3 Hats.
In 2010 he won the Roux Scholarship, the most prestigious and demanding competition in the Country for accomplished young chefs. For well over 20 years this competition has produced Scholars who have gone on to achieve great things. They remain members of a very special club which comes together every year with Michel (Senior and Junior) and Albert Roux. Two years ago Kenneth visited Japan with the Roux Scholars and later this year it will be New York. The Roux Scholars regularly get together under the eye of Michel Roux to design and prepare a banquet for charity, in 2013 at The Mandarin Oriental in Kensington.
Two short films were made at the time, one of the final stage of the competition and the other of Kenneth’s time cooking at Michelin 3-starred restaurant, Jean Georges on Central Park, New York.
Kenneth was recently invited by Slow Food UK to become a member of the Slow Food UK Chef Alliance.
Everything about The Dysart Petersham, its initial restoration, approach to food, drinks and service, commitment to quality ingredients and responsible sourcing, concern for tradition, garden, is driven by a guiding family view and firmly rooted in the shared values of Manager, Barny Taylor, and classically trained Head Chef, Kenneth Culhane. Both are constantly inspired and re-invigorated by the beautiful, country, surroundings in the village and the changes it sees through the seasons.
They are supported by a wider team, front of house and behind the scenes in the kitchen and by gardener and forager, bringing delights at unexpected moments. Both love the moment when new ingredients arrive each day, freshly gathered to influence the dishes.
Together, the team is passionate about food and wine, sensitive to the increasing need, understood naturally in earlier years better connected with nature, for ethical treatment and welfare of animals, thoughtful and natural cultivation of plants, the value of old varieties and breeds, the richness that wild herbs, flowers and plants add and the wise use of resources.
Both are keen communicators. Both want to make guests happy. Barny is never happier than when showing our nature board, explaining the ingredients, the flavour balances, the cooking methods, sourcing and traditions to those who want to listen – and why a particular wine is so good with them, often a surprising wine, but has the sensitivity from experience to know when guests simply want to enjoy the company, the food, the wine, the hospitality – the occasion.