With 20 years’ experience, Squerryes Estate Chef, Alexander Baillieu creates seasonal dishes and glorious signature plates at both our Terrace and Bottle Store restaurants. Having cut his teeth in many established kitchens around the world, our talented chef uses select cuts of prime meat, locally grown vegetables, and seafood from our coastal waters at the heart of his menu. Here, we find out how he’s cooking food ‘that lives up to the wine’…
I’m the estate chef, whose responsibility it is to run the entire food operation. That includes creating menus, sourcing fresh ingredients, hiring and training other chefs, overseeing the kitchen, and leading the brigade. It requires having a vision for the food at Squerryes.
I always think of a menu as a book. You don’t want chapter one to be a thriller, chapter two a comedy, and chapter three a whodunit. Instead, you want it to flow, with occasional twists, turns, and additions, creating something coherent and professional.
Buying great-quality ingredients, and letting their flavours speak for themselves. I keep things simple, season perfectly, and cook sympathetically, so that you can really taste what’s on the plate. It comes from having a fundamentally sound technique and putting in the hours in the kitchen.
What we’re hoping for is that the Bottle Store becomes a year-round venue, and the Terrace Restaurant becomes a very popular summer destination. I’d like to build on our al fresco dining experience and do music evenings in the vines too.
Squerryes is itself an artisan company, responsible for producing one of the premium sparkling wines in the world, so the food always needs to reflect that. In essence, the goal is to ensure that the food lives up to the wine.
It feels good to be able to be able to start to design a menu influenced by the ingredients I can source from the Squerryes Estate. We have recently employed the services of a very talented forager who will help me build our larder of ingredients, wild garlic is one of the first to appear in the seasonal calendar and now on our menu. It's also a triumph to have our first six raised beds in place, the cornerstone of our kitchen garden. The first crop of radishes and salad leaves just the start of much, much more to come.
It is hard to choose, they all have their place on my drinks list, each defined by an occasion and the food I'm preparing. I know that I'm not giving you a straight answer with one, but they all deserve to be a favourite.