Ross Bootland. Head Chef at Hotel du Vin & Bistro Newcastle
Ross trained at the prestigious Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh for 2 years, winning Scottish Junior Seafood Chef of the Year, before moving down to London to add to his experience at the Manderin Oriental for a year. It was after this that he joined the Malmaison group in 1997 for 5 years – beginning in Edinburgh opening Newcastle, Manchester and Leeds and returning to Edinburgh.
He has also previously held position of Head Chef for Dakota Hotels in Glasgow and then for Forth Bridge Edinburgh achieving several awards in a short space of time including:
Hotel Restaurant of the Year 2008
Restaurant of the Year Scotland 2008
Seafood Restaurant of the Year 2008
and nominated as one of the top ten in Scotland.
Ross has been inspired over the years in particular by Keith Shearer, Executive Head Chef of Hotel du Vin and Malmaison and by award winning Roy Brett, Head Chef of Ondine Restaurant.
Ross is now Head Chef at Hotel du Vin Newcastle. Take a look at his favourite dishes and take part in the Northern Face-off on Facebook Hotel du Vin Newcastle.
Thank you so much for all your comments, feedback and dinner party lists, we have really enjoyed the discussion of who to invite to the ultimate dinner party and had some excellent suggestions. Although there are no right or wrong answers, as promised there does have to be a winner. Congratulations Teresa Barnard you are our winner (your name was pulled out of the punchbowl first). We hope you enjoy your dinner party with whoever you choose to invite.
I’ve been asked a few times over a glass or two of vino, who would be the top ten people on my invite list to a dinner party hosted by moi. The rules are: they need to be famous, well known or historical and can be from any time/any era.
Now most of these don’t take much pondering over – I have a list as long as my arm I’d like to invite, full of the people that intrigue or inspire. The key is collating the most cunning mix of characters that, to me, bring something to the table. Here’s my list and why (in no particular order):
1. My first invite goes to the iconic Marilyn Monroe. A classic beauty and with poise rarely seen these days. I imagine she has a fair few secrets to tell.
2. Bill Murray – the sense of humour to break the ice and of all the comedic guests – he’s one of my favourites.
3. I’ve always had a great respect for Richard Branson – his business mind mixed with daring ‘live life to the full’ attitude inspires that anything is possible.
4. Mark Zuckerberg – A lucky find or a stroke of genius – whatever the answer, he’s current and happening – I’ll FB him his invite.
5. Seth MacFarlane – I’m obsessed with the work of this master of many trades: animator, writer, comedian, producer, actor, singer, voice actor and director. He makes me laugh a lot.
6. Banksy – Graffiti art with substance, humour, meaning and summons a reaction – I’d be interested to hear the conversation between him and my next guest – how art movements differ.
7. Van Gogh – a different emotional impact with his work than Banksy, but a reaction nonetheless.
8. Stephen Fry – for more witty humour and topical discussions – and an avid tweeter – I can perhaps poach some tips to multiply my following.
9. Elvis – The King (hopefully he won’t be leaving the building).
10. Coco Chanel – Ultimate style and inspiration, whether she meant to become the icon she is or not. Her story is one I’d like to hear first hand – as well as a few fashion tips.
So, picture the scene. We meet in the bar for cocktails and canapés first, for introductions and some jovial quips from Bill and Seth. Coco, Marilyn and I are having a giggle over the fashion faux pas in the bar. Then to the private dining room, a large table beautifully set for dinner. I make sure I’m sat in the middle. And as the dishes are served and the Champagne and conversation flows, my ideal dinner party inspires me: I must have more.
However, just in case Banksy and Zuckerberg don’t show face – I’ve got a few on the reserve list.
(Mary Quant, CS Lewis, James Dean)
All seems calm. St John Street, Clerkenwell. But there’s something bubbling away behind the scenes. Car chases, mystery, action… and ‘Gotham city police station’. All directed by Christopher Nolan (of the massively successful Inception). So bat fans, it’s time to check out Gotham’s finest. You might not catch a glimpse of the Dark Knight himself, but as I sink a spoon into one of the temptingly gorgeous cheese soufflés with a glass of Merlot at hand, I wistfully smile to myself. Forget Batman, I prefer our local food heroes. Sitting right amongst the buzz of the action, behind our trademark green canopy and wine barrels, keeping an eye out for Mr Bale et al on one of their breaks, I look forward to the movie release and will always remember, in the wise words of his super onscreen lady friend Rachel Dawes, “It’s not who you are underneath, it’s what you do that defines you”.
What are you going to do tonight? (eccentric billionaires welcome)
Big city neon lights. Big clothing. Bigger hair. Even bigger mobile phones. With The Apprentice hitting our screens again and a menagerie of ever hungry young guns treading over each other to be the next big thing, I find myself hooked once more. The catchphrases, the tasks and the cunning strategies of the select few individuals that shine through, got me to thinking.
It may come in various guises and face an assortment of good and bad challenges over the years depending on the world’s economic conditions, affecting perceptions, trends and decisions from top to bottom. For example, the time to be seen to be flash, big and ballsy is one of the past. Old school business ways are perceived as too showy, not productive, a waste of spare pennies – why have a top meeting over lunch in a local restaurant or bistro, when you can grab a severely pale coffee from the machine and stay within the beige four walls of your 6m x 6m office? Companies are still looking for ways of doing business that show value for money whilst at the same time seen to be ‘looking after’ their clients and colleagues and show that they are important to them. A meeting of minds over an unpretentious brunch and a Bloody Mary, or a late Friday afternoon lunch arrangement that turns into a nip or two of malt to see in the weekend, gives the impression that you care to take the time and show the importance of your clients or colleagues. An important trait to gain loyalty and trust.
Technology is advancing at the speed of light so much so that we don’t even need to be in the same room to have a meeting or hold a conference. I feel a little sad that this may cut out some of the personality, the face-to-face that helps build trust and longevity in business.
The world may have changed, but I believe business on a whole has not. The hunger, the drive, the ambition and the dealing, all still make up the bones of business. Whether a small business of one, or an organisation of hundreds, perception and creating an impression is still a major factor. Ok, so we can’t be seen to be splashing the cash on fancy locations, travel, and popping the Champagne on a regular basis – this doesn’t make good business sense especially in this current climate.
But there’s a balance. To build good relationships and discuss important deals and decisions, there needs to be some sort of respect given to this process. Is it not all part of the perception to take a leaf out of the old school style and add those little touches that made the difference? That impressed or made clients or colleagues feel relaxed and confident in each other? A local beer in the bar was always where the best nuggets of an idea formed, a quick and efficiently served lunch on comfortable stools round the open island kitchen is a great way to kill two birds and eat while you meet. A glass of bubbly to celebrate a success is always well deserved and keeps up spirits and moral.
So, it looks like the big hair’s making a come-back so I say let’s invest in a glass of exceedingly good Claret or chew over a decision on a succulent, melt in the mouth steak once in a while – the devil is in the detail, and if you’re going to do business with him, we should all embrace him.
One poignant moment comes and goes and we’re all asked – ‘Where were you?’, then shortly after comes another one. Life is a stream of decisions, moments and memories, so although you might not think it at the time, your choice of where to watch the Royal wedding, who to spend your 21st with, and what to wear on your graduation day for fear of tripping up on stage, are all decisions, that lead to moments, that lead to great memories that last a lifetime.
I’d like to say I cracked open the Champagne and celebrated my graduation with my friends and family, digging in to a good steak and swapping comments of thankfulness and hilarity that I was the one who tripped on the gown, but I sort of let the occasion go by without a sense of importance and without much appreciation to my family who had seen me through the long, long hours and mounds of drawing pads. Talks of drinks and meals with fellow graduates fell by the wayside and no-one really seemed too excited about yet another night at the Dog and Parrot.
In hindsight, if I were to do it again, I’d absolutely make more of an occasion of it all. I’d gather up all my loved ones and celebrate with them in style. Dressed in our finest I’d splash out and have the Champagne on ice, the chocolate strawberries in circulation and weather permitting, we’d be dining alfresco. I’d have definitely opted for the Champagne Afternoon Tea all round, which to me would have suited the occasion and the moment down to a ‘tea’, with delicate, delicious finger sandwiches, creamy scones (my father’s favourite) and sponge cake (my favourite).
Many, like me, may let the day drift by, or spend it in the ‘Dog’ without putting any great significance on the achievement. But having spent years of studying, striving and of test cramming, to set a platform for the future, I think a celebration with substance is the least the graduate and equally their nearest and dearest deserve.
And so, I’m gathering my family for that Champagne Afternoon Tea, even if I am a decade late, to toast to them, and to all those who support and nurture with love, humour and wise words. Thank you. To all those decisions, moments and memories. This time, no trip ups.
Following hot on the heels of the official opening of our Bistro in Clerkenwell, we’re delighted to announce our second Bistro du Vin, this time on Dean Street in Soho. The former Los Iguanos restaurant will be dusted with the du Vin magic brush. It will feature the same surefire success elements, like the Josper Grill, the “By-the-Glass” machine, and the same undying passion for simple bistro classics combined with a genuine love for great wine.
What an evening. London turned out in force to support the bistro opening night. Bloggers, celebrities, media londonistas, top chefs. The roll call on the culinary side is as follows – Michel Roux Jr, Stuart Gillies, Pierre Kauffman – all seemed impressed and stayed a while to witness the artistry and graft of Keith Shearer and his boys working the live kitchen.
On entering guests were treated to an exclusive Marmalade vodka infused martini or a cool iced tea infused with Millers gin. The food stations and our prized pewter top were brimming with shellfish and cuts of steak. The Josper Grill well and truly fired up filled the kitchen space with an amazing smokey aroma. Meanwhile in the live butchery, Eric from La Cave de Fromage hosted a majestic display of his finest cheeses, which proved to be immensely popular to say the least. Music was provided by Mario and his jazz quartet. The drink flowed. The food flowed. All there were more than served with the simple taste of “du Vin”.
The “by the glass” dispenser proved to be a complete smash. Busy all night. The music continued with Universal signed artist Jonathan Jeremiah, who provided a rousing uplifting set of songs from his album. And a thoroughly nice guy too. Downstairs in the the “Whisky Snuggle” the Scotch Malt Whisky Society held a night long tasting. I think I caught him at one point describing a whisky as the Angelina Jolie of whiskys – our kind of guy.
The whisky, the wine, the food continued to flow. At one point the outside became an alfresco cigar venue. Good times. Eventually the coats were taken from the vintage lockers and some of us headed off to our London beds (although some are still believed to be still there.
A massive thank you to all who attended. Keep the faith and see you in Soho in June for the second.
Thanks to Eat Out for such a swift review too.
It’s with great pleasure I find myself heading to London today for the Bistro opening. There’s trepidation, for sure. But the early signs during the soft opening is that the du Vin brand and way of thinking will fit in just fine.Much excitement about the opening night. Apart from the usual amazing collection of food stations and the never endiing glass of Champagne we seem to serve, we have a few exclusive surprises.
First off we’ll be featuring an exclusive collection of teas from famed London perfumer Miller Harris.
Secondly, we’ll be showcasing our “wine by the glass” dispenser – first of its kind in a restaurant setting. (see previous post)
Thirdly Vodka wunderkind from deepest darkest Herefordshire – Miller Harris have produced a special run of Marmalade infused vodka from their award-winning stills.
and…fourthly Universal signed singer songwriter Jonathan Jeremiah will be playing an acoustic set on the night featuring songs from his new album “Solitary Man”
Sure there’ll be a drizzle of celebs. But the real heroes tonight will be our sommeliers and the chefs who’ll be running round up close and personal for the great and good of London’s dining scene.
Our advertising says I think London is ready. Well, London we are too.