Meet our Head Chef, Daniel Turner
We are thrilled to introduce you to Daniel Turner, our new head chef who wants to raise the bar for Bournemouth food. Daniel has cooked in Michelin star and rosette restaurants, as well as working alongside Heston Blumenthal as his sous chef. By utilising innovative cooking techniques and taking inspiration from our surroundings, Daniel has created a menu which is unlike anything we have served before. We are sure this is our best menu yet.
Hello Daniel! I hope that you’re well, please tell us a little bit about yourself, how did you get into the industry?
Hello and thank you! I’ve been cooking for 18 years and I definitely couldn’t see myself doing anything else now, but I kind of just fell into it. I was actually studying both motor mechanics and catering at school, so I had both options, but I was lucky enough to have a friend who was looking for a Chef position in Oxford. He made the call and the rest is history!
What position did you enter at in kitchen?
I went straight in as a commis chef. A real proper commis chef. In those days, I was on £7k a year, doing 90 hours a week. But that’s my bread and butter training, that’s what made me who I am today. Everything I do, resorts back to that training.
Which chef do you most admire?
It’s got to be Heston Blumenthal. He is just incredible and working alongside him was an honor. He does exactly what he wants and rightly so, he has won the award for best restaurant in the world! I just love his creativity and the influence he has on the culinary world, including myself and this new menu.
How would you describe your style of cooking?
I’ve been in the AA and a variety of different papers who have described my style of cooking as ‘modern eclectic,’ which is a mish-mash of everything. I like my oriental stuff, I like my English stuff, I like the classic French stuff. I just love to combine different national cuisines.
What’s your favourite dish or signature dish?
Everyone asks me this. No chef has a single signature dish. My favourites are probably pork belly, slow roasted, you can’t get anything better than that. And you can’t beat a good fry up or a Sunday roast. If I had to say favourite. Very English.
What were you doing just before you came over to NEO?
I had just been working in Australia, but previously I’d been working in Spain, Plymouth, Oxford. More recently, I was the Head Chef at the Museum Inn in Blandford, that was incredible. It’s such a lovely place, very rural.
What changes can you see yourself making to NEO?
I have changed all of the menus. We’re trying to incorporate seafood a little more, especially as the suppliers are so great around here. We want to go down the extravagant route, I’m aiming for the wow factor here. I have also introduced afternoon tea, which I think will go down really well.
What’s different to this afternoon tea?
We’re going to try and theme it a little bit over the next few months, we’re doing a beachy sort of theme to afternoon tea, we’re looking into deck chairs to present the food, we’ve just ordered new stands. I’m going to try and make a sea looking panna cotta. We’ll see! It’s all in the works.
What would be your favourite dish on the new menu? What have you enjoyed about creating this new menu?
I’ve got one of my classics on here: Sand, sea, scallops and seaweed. This is a bit of a Heston inspiration. The sand is breadcrumbs fried in fish oil, seaweed being samphire, scallops being scallops, but then we take the roe off, dry it out so that we make coral, which goes on the plate as well. Then we have a seafood foam, which is the sea. Then we have sand, scallops, sea and seaweed. It’s very funky. We’ve also made a simple ham hock terrine, and then we’re going to smoke it to order, and then the waitresses are going to wave it around the table so it’s going to add a little bit of theatre to the restaurant.
What’s the benefit of smoking the terrine?
It’s just going to enhance the flavour and impair some smoking flavour into the terrine itself. It just makes it a bit different, a bit more theatrical, a bit more exciting.
What’s your favourite section in the kitchen?
It has to be sauce or pastry. To be honest, there is just nothing better than smashing out sauce on a Saturday night! I do like pastry but only when I’m on there for a week, not two days. If I’m on there all week, I love it. I started off doing 3 years in Michelin pastry, but I just had a thirst for trying new things.
What chefs have you worked with?
The most famous one is Heston Blumenthal. I worked with him for nearly two years as his Sous Chef at The Fat Duck Group. I was involved in some of the stuff on the TV as well, I helped to build the Hansel and Gretel house on Fantastic Feast. I have cooked for quite a few celebrities too.
So you’ve had some amazing experiences?
Yes, I’ve met a lot of people, doing what I do.
What’s your favourite British dish?
It has to be a roast dinner.
What country in the world has the best cuisine?
Ten years ago, I would have said France, but the tables have turned. It’s England now, purely because in the olden days, all the good chefs would go to France and Spain, learn their bread and butter like I did as a kid, and then come back to England and do their thing. Now that’s all happened, all these great Chefs have gone, come back and they’ve been working in London. They’ve then got fed up of London and left the city to other areas in the U.K. So now you don’t necessarily have to go to Paris or London to work with an amazing chef. You can learn outside of London, like in Bournemouth for example, giving younger Chef’s the opportunity to learn without having the live the London life.
Awesome. Finally, what’s the easiest dish to impress someone?
Hmm, we’ll it’s got to be pastry. But it’s difficult. The smoking ham hock terrine would impress someone, as would the scallop dish. I just think that as long as things are done right, you can impress anybody.