This is the first post in our new blog series in which we will introduce the talented Apex chefs from across our hotels and explore their passion for cooking. In this post, we catch up with John Newton, Head Chef at Heights Restaurant, and ask him to share his ‘perfect 15 minute meals’ with us.
Introducing John Newton – Head Chef, Heights Restaurant – Apex International Hotel
John is a keen fisherman and forager, who also enjoys a spot of gardening when he’s not busy in Heights kitchen. He has been cooking since he was 15, and started in small bakery. During his days off he would work as a butcher. From there, he moved into working at various 5* hotels and has experienced cooking in places such as USA, Australia, Orkney and even Thailand.
We asked John to answer a few questions before revealing his dishes:
What do you like most about being a chef?
I love being able to take something from its raw natural state and turn it, with some skill, into a picture on a plate, that marries and tastes as good as it looks.
What ingredients do you particularly enjoy working with?
I like seasonal produce linked to what is available in the wild, including herbs in season, and bringing these together with influences from around the world. My favourite food is game. There’s nothing like fresh Wood Pigeon, Pheasant or local Partridge. Being involved with a local shoot allows me to enjoy it as an all round experience. Some of my favourite classical marriages are:
- Chicken with mushroom and tarragon.
- Pigeon with red cabbage or elderberries.
- Venison with orange, juniper berries and star anise.
- Smoked haddock with leeks and potatoes.
What are your thoughts on 15 minute meals?
Everyone has busy lives and there is always a temptation to throw a ready meal into the microwave to save time. Cooking a tasty dish does not need to take a lot of time so I have prepared two recipes for perfect 15 minute meals.
Dish 1 - Hot Smoked Salmon with Linguine, Sun Blush Tomatoes, Toasted Pine Nuts and Basil.
- 100g hot smoked salmon per person
- Sea salt
- 50g linguine per person
- 100g sun-blushed tomatoes
- 20ml rape seed oil
- 50g pine kernels
- Basil leaves.
1. Flake the hot smoked salmon.
2. Cook the linguine in plenty of salted boiling water. When cooked al dente, drain and toss in rape seed oil.
3. Chop tomatoes into medium dice and snip basil leaves.
4. Toss together in a large bowl.
5. Season and serve while still warm.
6. Enjoy with a chilled glass of Pinot Grigio or Chablis.
Dish 2 - Beef Tagliata with Parmesan, Rape Oil, Horseradish and Caper Relish.
- 90g flat iron steak per person
- 20ml rape seed oil
- Sea salt
- 100g Parmesan cheese
- 250g rocket salad
- Shaved horseradish root.
1. Add half of the rape seed oil to a hot pan.
2. Sear the flat iron steak for about 10 seconds per side and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
3. Thinly slice the steak.
4. Drizzle the steak with the remaining rape seed oil, parmesan shavings, horseradish shavings, sea salt and rocket.
5. Serve immediately with a glass of your favourite light red wine.
(Optional: You can make a caper relish with white wine vinegar, brown sugar and chopped caper. Place the sugar and vinegar in a pan (allow a tablespoon of each per person). Reduce the heat by half and then add the chopped capers.)
Enjoy cooking and eating your perfect 15 minute dishes. Look out for future blog posts introducing the other chefs of Apex Hotels.