The executive head chef of L’Horizon Beach Hotel & Spa, Andrew Soddy, is celebrating the Island’s wealth of high-quality fish on this year’s Taste Jersey menu. He spoke to Emily Moore
HAVING spent 12 years working on cruise ships before moving to a hotel which boasts one of the Island’s finest seaside positions, it is little surprise that, when it comes to curating a Taste Jersey menu, Andrew Soddy’s love of the water influences many of his dishes.
Indeed, as the executive head chef of L’Horizon Beach Hotel & Spa says, when you are sitting in The Atlantic Restaurant or, in warmer weather, catching the rays on The Terrace looking out over St Brelade’s Bay, what could be better than enjoying a dish which showcases some of the Island’s finest seafood?
‘We are incredibly lucky in Jersey to have a wealth of high-quality meat, fish, dairy and fresh vegetables available to us and I am really excited to be highlighting as many of these ingredients as possible in this year’s Taste Jersey menu,’ said Andrew.
‘While I love all the dishes, I am particularly pleased that this special pop-up-restaurant includes so much local seafood. Our fishing industry has experienced so many challenges recently that I am really keen to support our fishers as much as possible.’
Such is Andrew’s dedication to celebrating this key industry that he is a familiar sight in the Fish Market, where the ‘friendly rivalry’ between neighbouring stallholders Dunn-Ross Fisheries and Fin and Feather often sees him pulled between the two businesses, as he selects the catches to feature on that day’s menu.
‘There’s always a good banter between us and it’s great to chat to them to find out what has been caught that day. They will then present the catch and that’s when the excitement really kicks in, as I start thinking about how we can use that ingredient on our Market Menu,’ smiled Andrew.
But while writing menus is second nature to Andrew, he is also committed to developing his team members and, through some ‘friendly competition in the kitchen’, giving them the opportunity to create their own dishes.
‘Working with the suppliers in this way gives the chefs the chance to experiment and get creative, which is often how we devise the specials for that day’s sitting,’ he explained. ‘Not only does this keep the menu varied but it also builds the team’s confidence and they feel a real sense of pride if a dish that they’ve created becomes that day’s best-seller.’
Many of those dishes – including the Jersey seafood chowder on the Taste Jersey starter menu – go on to become firm favourites.
‘The chowder is always a big seller for us and it features a huge range of local seafood from crevettes and mussels to crabs and lobsters,’ he said. ‘In keeping with our ethos of using every element of an ingredient and maximising the flavour in every dish, we also use the starch water from the Jersey Royals and the shells to build the base stock and then we complement the local fish with a little bit of smoked haddock, which adds a beautiful undertone to the soup.’
Continuing the seafood theme, the main courses include skate, brill and sea bream, all of which are caught locally and accompanied by other Island ingredients.
‘The sea bream, for example, is served as a battered fillet,’ said Andrew. ‘To ensure the right finish on this, we experimented with 15 different batters before finalising the dish. The batter is finished with Liberation Waverider lager and is almost tempura in style, so it has a super crispy finish, which goes perfectly with the lightly pickled vegetable noodles to create a dish with a real summer vibe.’
That approach of pairing Jersey ingredients and Asian flavours also features in another main course – the cauliflower steak.
‘This is a great dish,’ smiled Andrew who said that, as his wife is a vegetarian, he particularly enjoys the challenge of creating inventive meat-free meals. ‘We start by confiting the cauliflower, which injects even more flavour into it. Once it comes out of the oil, we let it rest for a couple of hours before chilling it and frying it in lots of butter.
‘It is then served with a really light foam made from Jersey Cheddar, which not only adds flavour but brings another texture and visual appeal to the dish. I then return to my love of Asian flavours with some pickled curried golden raisins and spring onion fritters. For this, the onions are shredded and mixed with chickpea flour and grated potato so they are like a cross between a rosti and a bhaji.’
The care applied to the vegetarian food is also apparent in the beetroot-based starter, which Andrew describes as a ‘riot of colour’.
‘This is a dish packed with flavour and featuring local beets, dill, fennel, orange and radicchio,’ he smiled. ‘By salt-baking the beets, not only do you maintain the freshness of the flavour but you get a much more vibrant colour. In fact, the candied beets almost look like little pink and white sweets.
‘Against this, you have the ruby red of the radicchio, together with an almost translucent fennel and then an almostpale-green mayonnaise, which is made using local dill and eggs. When you put all this together, it’s a dish so full of colour that it really makes you smile.’
With Taste Jersey heralding the beginning of spring, Andrew says that many of the dishes designed for the festival will form the basis of the new menu for The Terrace, which is due to open in May.
‘Taste Jersey will act as a springboard for our summer menu, as we are passionate about showcasing as much local produce as possible across our menus,’ he explained.
In addition to the main Taste Jersey menu, Andrew and his team have designed a special afternoon tea offer, with sweet, savoury and children’s versions available.
With his previous experiences having included a stint in the pastry kitchen at The Dorchester Hotel, afternoon tea is a British tradition close to his heart.
‘The Taste Jersey tea is something I’m really excited about and, in keeping with the local ethos, it showcases a range of Island ingredients,’ he smiled. ‘While I don’t want to give too much away, I will say that the sandwiches remain quite classic – you can’t really deviate too much from tradition with those – but use lots of Jersey produce including beef, horseradish, eggs and locally smoked salmon.
‘We also serve La Mare Wine Estate black butter and preserves with our homemade scones, while the sweet elements feature ingredients including local dairy and salted caramel from La Crémière.
‘Each item will also have a Jersey name and will revolve around one key local item. It’s all about taking a product and letting it shine in a way befitting of the occasion of afternoon tea.’
- The Taste Jersey pop-up in The Atlantic Restaurant will run every Friday and Saturday from 14 April, while the afternoon tea will be served daily.