This is the story of our Head Chef, John Brandon. How he started to cook and how he became a leading British chef with a tremendous fine dining career history that is now creating quite a stir in rural Worcestershire at The Elms.
Given that John’s mother was far from enthusiastic about cooking, it was perhaps a little bit of necessity that started what was to become a remarkable cooking career, at the age of just eight years old. “My mother was a dreadful cook and so I think I became involved in the kitchen to avoid malnutrition! I was soon cooking for my family at the age of eight or nine,” says John.
With the spark firmly planted, John initially started working as a kitchen porter at 14 and moved through the garnish section to vegetable preparation, starter preparation and finally to pastry – an area that he remains passionate about today.
It was his love of pastry that found him on an enviable apprenticeship at The Savoy in London from the age of 16, spending the next three years in numerous areas including banqueting, assisting the chefs de partie, the grill kitchen and eventually, at the Michelin-starred River Room. John was still only 19 years old.
Full of ambition and confidence, John worked in a variety of notable hotels and restaurants, not just in London, but Europe too. He firstly worked in Geneva at Nogay Hilton under Giles Dupont, before moving on to Genotier in Annecy, France and Sienna in Tuscany. Back in the UK again, he was soon drawn to the very best in London, joining L’Orangere on St James Street, working under Marcus Wareing. The Conran group soon followed; Bibendium under Simon Hopkinson first, before moving to Quaglino’s to work for Henrik Iversen and Julian O’Neill.
Crossing the border to Scotland, still with the Conran group, John fine-tuned his culinary skills at many prestigious restaurants, eventually becoming Head Chef at The Waterloo Place Hotel in Edinburgh.
Fresh, seasonal, local and sustainable. Our vegetables come from our kitchen garden.
And now to The Elms – close to his Worcestershire home - where John continues to set his sights high and create remarkable, British inspired dishes using the very best ingredients. So much so, that The Elms has been awarded one AA Rosette Award for its food. “Our food and ethos is simple,” he says. “Fresh, seasonal, local and sustainable. Our vegetables come from our kitchen garden or from The Vale of Evesham. Our meat is only from the best suppliers in the UK and our fish is caught in UK waters and landed in Newlyn or Brixham. We use Cotswold white chicken from Worcestershire and our eggs – free range and organic – come from a farm near Ludlow. We only use seasonal produce from ethical suppliers,” explains John.
With remarkable dedication, organisation and plenty of preparation, John and his team are putting The Elms firmly on the food map for British inspired fine food that is designed to exceed all expectations. Couple this with the splendour and magical warmth of our Queen Anne country house hotel and you have the perfect recipe for an exceptional dining occasion, whether as a hotel guest or as a non-resident, simply indulging in our magnificent fine dining with family and friends.