A New Moon Rising: Dan Moon At The Gainsborough Restaurant

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Dan Moon is transforming the face of fine dining in Bath, with his ever-developing menus and dishes which delight the senses. Dan has experienced an extraordinary response from the local community and further afield during his 18-month tenure as Head Chef at The Gainsborough Restaurant. In recognition of his culinary flair and soaring popularity in the local area, The Gainsborough Bath Spa is proud to announce the unveiling of ‘Dan Moon At The Gainsborough Restaurant’.

Here,the talented Head Chef talks to Craig Maplesden about his career, our great local produce and how his mum’s shepherd’s pie kick-started his passion for food.

For those who aren’t aware of your background, can you tell us a little about your career so far.

I’ve worked in kitchens for 20 years and have been been working in Bath for fifteen years. Before here I was head chef at Ston Easton Park, I’ve also worked at Homewood Park and Hunstrete House where I was awarded three AA rosettes. Six years ago I won an Acorn Award.

Now I’m in my second year at The Gainsborough, where I’m fortunate to have a lot of creative freedom and control over the menus.

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You are known for your innovation. For those who have yet to come to the restaurant, what can they expect?

For me, cooking is a way of expressing my creativity, so new diners can expect striking, theatrical presentation. If food is art then plates are the picture frame. But nothing is put on my plates just for appearance’s sake; every microcress, every blossom, every slick of bright sauce has a ‘flavour purpose’ too.

I like to set the scene for the diner visually before they’ve taken a mouthful. For example, at the table my smoked salmon dish emerges dramatically from underneath a smoking glass cloche.

What is your food ethos?

Seasonal, local produce is and always will be my top priority. Our vegetables come from the Bristol markets fresh every morning. Our meat comes from Walter Rose & Son butchers in Devizes. I also believe that every dish should be cohesive with no jarring flavours or textures just for the sake of being different. My core culinary style can be summed up as: classical flavours with modern presentation.

When I first joined The Gainsborough Restaurant, my focus was on creating new flavour combinations and giving dishes a depth of flavour that surprised and excited guests, and I never looked back. For me, every single meal of the day should be a celebration, whether it’s a quick breakfast for guests, an indulgent afternoon tea, or a six-course tasting menu experience, I want my diners to feel special with every bite they take. I feel so proud that this has been reflected in the popularity of the restaurant and its establishment in both the local and tourist market.

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How fortunate are we to have such great produce in the South West and what has been your latest discovery?

So lucky! Bath is beautiful, we’ve got so many great products fresh on our doorstep. I use local suppliers wherever possible. My latest find is Lee at Teeny Greeny Farm in Staverton, they specialise in organic micro-cresses which are perfect for my dishes.

What are your first memories of food and has that influenced your style throughout your career?

Mum’s shepherd’s pie. It might sound basic but it infused me with a passion for well-made home cooked food. And the traditional nature of Mum’s cooking has instilled in me a life-long passion for classical fare. Most diners don’t want weird and wacky flavour mishmashes, which is why my focus is always on the substance of each dish. I experiment a lot with different flavour combinations but only ones that work make it onto the menu – I never innovate for the sake of innovation.

Who has been the biggest influence in your career to date?

James Parkinson, the executive chef from Von Essen hotel. He mentored me at Homeward Park, and I’m absolutely indebted to him for the skills and the knowledge he has imparted.

There has been a lot of thought gone into selecting the best wines to accompany the dinner menu. How important has this been in adding to the overall dining experience?

It’s so important! The right wine can really complement and elevate the flavours of the food. I work very closely with our restaurant manager to select the optimum wine pairings for each dish.

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What exciting things are planned for the remainder of the year?

September will be an exciting month. We have the official launch of ‘Dan Moon at The Gainsborough’. We have a special Georgian afternoon tea planned to coincide with the Jane Austen festival. We’re also partaking in the Great Bath Feast, with a special supper club on the 27th and our ongoing 241 lunch offer on weekdays throughout the feast.

Later this year we’re hoping to see some structural changes in terms of the restaurant and bar layouts – watch this space.

What is your food hell/heaven?

I like all food, which is a growing problem for my waistline. One thing I do really love is good antipasti, paired with the perfect wine.

If you were hosting a dinner party of 4 and could cook for anyone (dead or alive). Who would they be?

Arsene Wenger, Jon Snow, Conor McGregor and Hans Zimmer.

Filed under Interviews.