DAN FLETCHER: REACH FOR THE SKY

Dan Fletcher’s food journey has taken him from North Yorkshire dish room to fine dining in the clouds. He grew up in Hutton Rudby and now he’s head chef at Fenchurch rooftop restaurant at the Sky Garden in London.
DAN FLETCHER: REACH FOR THE SKY

Elysia Agnew catches up with Fenchurch chef, Dan Fletcher, over his tea-inspired Great British Menu starter…

MY COOKING CAREER STARTED WHEN…

I was fifteen, washing up at the McCoy’s Tontine restaurant near Northallerton. I was always curious about what was going on in the kitchen and I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of. One day the chef shouted at me ‘Dan – grab a knife, we need some beans topping and tailing’… and I’ve never looked back. I was just so excited to be out of the dish room!

MY FIRST CHILDHOOD FOOD MEMORY WAS… 

My grandma’s steamed marmalade pudding. It was my grandad’s favourite and was always made on special occasions. Making it myself now brings back a lot of special memories.

AFTER EARNING MY STRIPES IN THE KITCHENS OF YORKSHIRE’S LOCAL RESTAURANTS…

I went to catering college, and then packed my bags and travelled to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, showing what I had learnt in kitchens across the globe. When I came home I went to work in Edinburgh’s The Kitchin under Michelin-awarded chef Tom Kitchin, whose signature ‘nature to plate’ ideology really shaped my approach to technique and flavour. After leaving Edinburgh, I came back home to Yorkshire to work at the Michelin-starred Black Swan at Oldstead, before finally moving back to London to join two Michelin-starred, The Square under Phil Howard.

After four years at the The Square, I moved to Fenchurch at Sky Garden where I now oversee a team of 17 chefs.

I WAS VERY FORTUNATE TO BE APPROACHED ABOUT THE GREAT BRITISH MENU OPPORTUNITY…

And after speaking to a few friends who’ve been on the show and recommended it, there was no way I could turn it down.

The whole experience has been such a rollercoaster of emotions. From the initial excitement of being asked to take part, to the nerves of being filmed, the challenges of the creative process through to the overwhelming joy I felt winning the North East round. I was so proud!

I THINK IT’S QUITE NORMAL TO WORRY ABOUT HOW YOU’RE GOING TO COME ACROSS ON TV…

Because you never know how it’s going to be edited and how you’re going to look, but in the end, I was quite pleased. Although watching the first show was very surreal, I’ve watched it for so many years I couldn’t believe I was the one on screen doing the cooking.

THE INGREDIENTS IS WHAT MAKES ME TICK IN THE KITCHEN…

Using quality, seasonal ingredients can transform the simplest of dishes into something very special. I get so excited every time new produce comes in with the seasons, as it allows me and the team to be really creative in the kitchen. As the seasons change I spend time creating new dishes, and looking at ways in which we can incorporate new flavour combinations and textures into the menus.

THE FOOD AT FENCHURCH FOCUSES ON SEASONAL BRITISH PRODUCE…

Cooked in a way that brings out the best possible flavours in the dish. The menus offer choice for everyone and whilst the dishes are elegant, they’re never fussy. Last year, the Great British Menu celebrated 75 years of the NHS. To celebrate this amazing anniversary, we launched a special tasting menu, which includes the dishes I cooked on the show, all of which are inspired by our incredible National Health Service.

I THINK THERE ARE LOADS OF INCREDIBLE PLACES TO EAT IN THE NORTH EAST…

But if I had to pick one it would be the The Bay Horse at Hurworth. I’ve always loved going there and it’s great to go back and see everyone and enjoy some really well cooked, beautiful dishes.

I LIKE TO KEEP IT SIMPLE AT HOME…

My go-to dish is usually pasta – I do like to make a lasagne. I make it with slow braised shin of beef finished with fresh tomato, pancetta, chicken livers and loads of basil. SO tasty.

MY DEATH ROW DINNER? WELL, IF I’M ON DEATH ROW, I’M GOING OUT WITH SOME SERIOUS LUXURY…

To start I’d have white truffle tagliatelle with well-aged parmesan, followed by rib of beef with cep mushroom and madeira sauce. For pudding I’d have something huge with loads of chocolate and caramel. I have such a sweet tooth it’s unbelievable. I find myself in the freezer looking for ice cream far too often!

I’M BACK IN THE NORTH EAST THIS FEBRUARY…

For Rockliffe Hall’s Festival of Food. Danny Parker, David Coulson and I will be working together on a six-course tasting menu in the Orangery restaurant on Sunday 3 February. The menu will include our dishes from the Great British Menu. Hopefully we won’t be too competitive in the kitchen this time!


skygarden.london

Seaham Hall

Related Stories