Featured Chef

Meet Aaron Vanstone, Chef Proprietor of The Pattard Restaurant, Hartland

Posted on
29 Jun 2022
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Aaron Vanstone is Chef Proprietor of Pattard Restaurant in Hartland, Torridge, which he runs with his partner Felicity Cook.

Their ethos is to use the best local ingredients to create something a little bit special, staying true to the tried-and-tested classics, but adding his own flair and fun.

Food Drink Devon spoke to Aaron about his career and his love for local Devon produce. Here’s what he had to say…

I’ve been a chef for almost 20 years and in 2020 decided it was time to find something we could really sink our teeth into. When the opportunity came up to open our restaurant in our village, we jumped at it.

We took over in the January, then Covid broke, and we all know how that turned out, it was a very challenging time indeed!

What prompted you to become a chef?

Some of my earliest memories are cooking with my mother making bread and cakes. I was always amazed at how different, and how much better, they tasted compared to the things from a shop.

My first experience of hospitality was helping my mother with breakfasts in her B&B, which led to my first proper kitchen job as a KP in a local hotel in Clovelly.

At the time the hotel was struggling for chefs. The high number of covers, mixed with the unique way of having to live and work in Clovelly put off many chefs from working there.

But Clovelly was my home and I grasped the opportunity to train further and start cooking. The responsibilities of mise en place, the buzz of a busy service and the fantastic feedback from guests got me hooked!

I studied a Law & Business Management degree, and working as a chef was a good way to make some money while at university, but the realisation slowly dawned that sitting in an office pouring over paperwork couldn’t compare to the joy I got from cooking and the camaraderie I felt from being part of a brigade!

What has been your greatest achievement/proudest moment in your career?

I like to think I’ve had a few proud moments. Cooking in different countries, training youngsters and cooking with world-renowned chefs all feel amazing; but the real highlight is starting my own restaurant.

Being my own boss, leading the restaurant in our chosen direction, achieving local foodie awards, hearing feedback from guests and experiencing constant support from our community all means so much.  I’m determined not to let any of the current crises in the UK – and the wider world – affect that.

What makes Devon such a great place to work as a chef?

For me, Devon is home. I love where I’ve grown up and spent my summer holidays as a child outside, exploring from sunrise to sunset.  Becoming a chef has intensified that love and added an unwavering respect for Devon’s produce and producers.

I grew up knowing local farmers and fisherman and knowing exactly where (and when) to go and see them, for things like Clovelly Lobsters which must be the finest lobsters I’ve tasted.

More recently foraging has caught my interest. My problem is finding the time to learn more about it but can’t wait to do so!

Where would you go to dine out on a night off?

A night off? With time to go and dine? Unfortunately, that’s a rare occurrence, but when it does happen, we always make an effort to go somewhere new and experience something different.

One of our favourite places was The Coach House at Kentisbury Grange when it was under the leadership of Michael Caines; Nathan Outlaws New Road in Port Isaac is amazing, but more recently we have been to Potters in Bude. Oli & Nikki are doing a great job there with a fantastic location in the centre of town. It’s highly recommended.

What is your favourite Devon ingredient/product to use in your dishes? And why?

There is no simple answer to this. It depends on the season and on what I’m trying to achieve. Clovelly Lobster is a fantastic product, and so are any of the fish landed locally.

In the winter, venison and pheasant are usually on our menu, but who doesn’t like some good old Ruby Red or Dexter? There is so much!

We are working in with a local care farm called Noah’s Place. Their head gardener Sue grows most of my micro herbs and as much fruit, veg and herbs as she can, all with the help of the daily visitors and their care workers.

Noah’s Place is a charity set up to help people with learning disabilities and we love the fact we are an outlet for them and always look forward to receiving this week’s Veg Box.

 

Pattard Restaurant, Pattard Farm, Hartland, Devon, EX39 6BY
01237441444

www.pattardrestaurant.co.uk

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