MasterChef’s Gregg Wallace entertains diners at Brooklands Hotel, Weybridge, as new era begins

PUBLISHED: 11:58 18 August 2015 | UPDATED: 12:34 18 August 2015

MasterChef's Gregg Wallace shares his food and drink journey at Brooklands Hotel

MasterChef's Gregg Wallace shares his food and drink journey at Brooklands Hotel

Pete Gardner Photography

The times are changing at Brooklands Hotel, where an exciting new era has begun under executive head chef, Dean Williams. MasterChef’s Gregg Wallace paid a visit to Weybridge to host the first gourmet night under the new watch – and Surrey Life was invited along for the four-course journey

Gregg Wallace with Dean Williams, the new executive head chef at Brooklands HotelGregg Wallace with Dean Williams, the new executive head chef at Brooklands Hotel

MasterChef host Gregg Wallace proved to be a hot ticket when he hosted a gourmet night to promote local growers and producers at Brooklands Hotel in Weybridge on Friday August 14.

Guests at the sell-out event, An Evening with Gregg Wallace, were not only treated to a delicious four-course dinner but also enjoyed the chance to win prizes in his foodie quiz and chat to their celebrity host.

“I’ve been working really hard; each MasterChef takes three months and I’ve been doing it for 12 years now,” says Gregg, when Surrey Life gets the chance to speak with him during the course of the evening.

“The most nerve-wracking times are when we are left with three finalists in charge of something very important. We have been at Buckingham Place and Number 10 but the most scary time was when they were in charge of someone’s wedding breakfast.

“John Torode almost had kittens because of the scale of the wedding and we didn’t want to see them fail. We don’t have to invent drama on MasterChef - whoever is on can go from rapturous joy to complete dejection. My favourite version of the show is with the amateurs, where we have people who come from home kitchens.”

Grown-up and confident

It was a good time to be visiting Brooklands Hotel, where they have just appointed Dean Williams as executive head chef of their 1907 Restaurant, Bar & Grill.

“There was a time when you would have to travel to find somewhere really good to eat out but now you don’t have to go very far,” says Gregg. “I’ve got great confidence in the head chef here.

“There’s a lack of frivolity and he does grown-up, confident cooking. You can see it all over the menu.”

In true MasterChef style, Gregg also alerted guests to the culinary challenges posed by each course. Fortunately, Dean triumphed each time.

He kept the distinctive spiral pattern on the candy beets in the starter course of pickled Tillingbourne trout with candy and golden beets, lemon oil and summer herbs.

Next came 100-plus fillets of Surrey Farm beef served up to perfection; not to mention the accompanying confit ox cheek croquet, truffle mash, summer squash and roasted shallots in South Downs butter and veal vinaigrette.

As the evening progressed, Gregg flagged up the blueberry meringue in the Eton Mess dessert as another technical test but it was delicious and the high quality of local cheeses Sussex Charmer, Norbury Blue and Sussex Brie made the final course another winner.

Born in Peckham and now living on the Kent coast, Gregg told Surrey Life, his favourite meal would be a plate of Whitstable oysters, roast lamb, followed by rhubarb crumble.

Dining out no longer holds the same appeal these days, however, and he and fiancée Anne-Marie don’t eat out much.

“Happy men eat at home,” he says. “I feel more relaxed and cook a lot more. I’ve got a daughter aged 18 and son of 21. The rules at meals are a glass of wine and only playing music by dead people - except Abba.”

And on that note, glasses are topped up and we settle into a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

It’s clearly an exciting new era for Brooklands Hotel, and there can’t be many better ways to have started it than with the thumbs up from a MasterChef stalwart.

***

Surrey’s MasterChef connections

Dan Britten, who runs Britten’s Restaurant in Guildford, made it to the quarter finals of MasterChef in 2008

Ben Piette, who’s in charge at London House, made it to the semi-finals of MasterChef: The Professionals in 2010 and has recently moved his restaurant from Old Woking to West Byfleet

Woking's Tante Marie has trained a number of MasterChef competitors over the years

Another one to try...

Until recently at Brooklands Hotel, chef Nick Sinclair is now making waves at the Burford Bridge Hotel in Dorking

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