Chef Greg Anderson, Norfolk's newest Michelin-starred chef
- Credit: Steve Adams
Greg Anderson tells Sarah Hardy all about winning a Michelin star just months after opening his Holt restaurant, Meadowsweet
It’s quite the success story. Just nine months after opening his small but beautifully formed restaurant, Meadowsweet, in Holt, chef patron Greg Anderson won a Michelin star.
Basically an Oscar of the foodie world, chefs can spend a lifetime trying to secure this coveted award - and this new kid on the block did it at first time of asking.
His pedigree gives you an inkling as to why - he was head chef at Norfolk’s Morston Hall for six years which has held a Michelin star for a couple of decades. And, after chatting to him and watching him delicately prepare several partridge breasts, you witness his passion and precision. Everything has to be, and is, perfect.
Greg is a quiet, thoughtful man. Certainly not one for hyperbole, but there is, I think, a steely determination there. He tells me that he didn’t have a real calling to be a chef. He wasn’t, for example, the sort of child who helped his mother cook tea each night. He grew up on a farm in the Scottish borders, with the family keeping sheep, cows, pigs, chickens and goats, and Greg was expected to help out. "So yes, I know where food comes from," he says. "And it gave me a good work ethic."
He didn’t want to be a farmer, so attended a local catering college before heading to work in Edinburgh where the desire to create perfect dishes from perfect ingredients took hold. He gained more experience in America, before working at L’Enclume in the Lake District and Gravetye Manor in Sussex.
Clearly ambitious, at just 25, he was chasing a head chef role, saying: "I attended interviews up and down the country, from Inverness to the Isle of Wight."
- 1 Waterfalls, Weirs and Cascades of the Peak District
- 2 Ball and Boe announce a new album for 2022
- 3 Herts best food and drink recommendations May 2022
- 4 These are the Cornwall beaches awarded Blue Flag status in 2022
- 5 Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday Celebrations in Hertfordshire
- 6 10 Derbyshire events celebrating the Queen's Platinum Jubilee
- 7 WIN an original watercolour painting of Mountnessing, Brentwood
- 8 A sculpture exhibition 200ft beneath the Forest of Dean
- 9 10 Cheshire events celebrating the Queen's Platinum Jubilee
- 10 10 Yorkshire events celebrating the Queen's Platinum Jubilee
But it was Morston Hall and its owners Tracy and Galton Blackiston who caught his fancy. "I liked the set up," he says, simply. "There’s no lunch service so you can concentrate on the evening’s tasting menu. And they gave me the run of the place which really helped me grow."
He stayed for six years, leaving at the start of last year and is pretty upfront about why he left. "It seemed a natural progression, I wasn’t sure what else I could achieve there."
He’d already met his partner, Rebecca Williams, who worked as the general manager at Morston Hall for five years, saying: "She came in for dinner, with friends - she’d worked at the Ingham Swan before," and now they are partners in life and business.
They decided to set up their own restaurant with rooms - rooms being essential to the overall business plan - and thought Holt had potential. "There was nothing on the market," Greg says, until they discovered that the old Yetman’s restaurant on Norwich Road might be an option."It was the perfect size," he says. "It took a year of negotiation and then six to eight months to renovate it," he says, adding that they gutted the place, putting in new plumbing and electrics.
"Rebecca’s mum was incredible. She made us some wonderful dining tables, and even butter knives, and helped with so much," Greg says. My eye caught the pretty little ‘handbag’ stools created by Machteld, Rebecca’s mum, meaning that you don’t have to dump your bag on the floor!
Certainly Meadowsweet is effortlessly stylish. It’s a Grade II listed property, with a pretty garden enclosed within a traditional flint wall. Inside is all cool and contemporary, with white washed walls and plenty of original features including characterful fireplaces.
But it’s that award-winning food, of course, that people are clamouring for. With just 20 seats available each evening for a spectacular tasting menu, it is very much a culinary experience, with Greg and his team serving diners each dish, explaining the ingredients and preparation process.
Just about everything, including breads, sauces, ice creams and chutneys, are made on the premises, with Greg supporting the town’s producers. His fish, for example, is from the North Norfolk Fish Company, his butcher is P and S Butchers, and his fruit and veg is from Benbow’s. And Greg makes special mention of the raw milk dairy produce he gets from Old Hall Farm at Woodton, between Norwich and Bungay. "We use their butter, yogurt, and some of their meats, too," he says.
The 32-year-old’s menu reflects the seasons, with Greg looking forward to the start of the asparagus season this month, and one dish, his lobster ravioli, created with locally caught lobster, is gaining its own fan club.
The wine list is Rebecca’s domain and she favours the Wright Wine Company in Skipton in Yorkshire, run by Julian Kaye, with an annual visit a real highlight. "We sit and just talk for a couple of hours," says Greg.
He shows his sense of humour when talking about gaining his Michelin star, laughing that "it’s certainly an ego boost" while also admitting that it helps bookings. "We were full for the next three months and it just went insane - there’s not much left for the rest of the year."
He explains that all inspections are anonymous, with inspectors paying their way - and that he’s not allowed to say much more! But he does say that he doesn’t chase awards, rather simply concentrates on doing what he does. "We just do the best we can, buying the best we can."
Meadowsweet has three bedrooms, all named after herbs, with Greg saying: "We like to stay away for the night when we eat out, it makes for a more relaxing and enjoyable evening.’
He thinks the Norfolk foodie scene is developing apace, and lists the Neptune in Old Hunstanton, The Old Bank Bistro in Snettisham, The Gunton Arms near North Walsham and XO Kitchen in Norwich as some of his favourites.
He is totally committed to Meadowsweet and its success. Sure it only opens four days a week - Wednesday to Saturday - but, as he says, Tuesday is all about food preparation, Monday is all about paperwork - and on a Sunday, he has to prepare breakfasts for Saturday’s overnight guests.
He doesn’t see himself going down the TV presentation route or doing lots of cookery demos at food festivals as he’d rather be in his own kitchen, producing that fantastic food. Hurrah to that!