Meet the chef putting Channels Bar & Brasserie on the foodie map

Dan Pitts, head chef at Channels Estate Chelmsford

Dan Pitts, head chef at Channels Estate - Credit: Giulia Verdinelli

We chat to Chelmsford’s own Dan Pitts, the experimental head chef responsible for putting Channels Brasserie on the foodie map 

Tell us about your career so far. How did you come to be head chef at Channels Estate? 

Growing up, my parents ran pubs all over Essex, so I spent a lot of time in the kitchen. I studied professional cookery and gained as much experience and knowledge as I could. 

Five years ago, I was working at Stansted Airport doing VIP fine dining for private jets when I got a call from a chef I had worked with years ago. He told me about Channels and the vision the GM and director had for the business. I saw how much potential there was, and I’ve been here ever since.  

Channels Brasserie Chelmsford

Channels Brasserie - Credit: Lydia Packham

Where do you live in Essex, and what do you think of the local food scene? 

I've always lived in Chelmsford; I like the area but it has changed a lot and certainly grown. There’s a fair number of chain restaurants but there are also a few stand-out places. It’s been a tough couple of years and some of the cool places have called it a day, while the chains live on.  

There are so many amazing local producers; we use as much of their produce as possible when designing our menus and concepts for the restaurant. 

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What style of food do you make? 

Our ethos combines old-world training with new-world techniques to develop a unique style of elevated cooking. I’m inspired by my own journey growing up in the industry and 15 years of learning my craft in restaurants in the area. 

The team and I always push to maximise our ingredients’ potential, treating them with the attention, respect and love they deserve. I have a few signature dishes that we rotate depending on the season; we always sell a lot of our crab katsu.  

Channels crab katsu

Crab katsu - Credit: Giulia Verdinelli

Tell us about the new chef’s table experience at Channels... 

The chef’s table was an idea that the exec chef and I came up with when we started planning for the extension on the kitchen and restaurant. I came up with the idea of Menu 25: as much as possible on that week’s menu is sourced or produced within a 25-mile radius. We have a chef’s garden, which we utilise as much as we can, and we also use honey from our beehives. 

Myself or another chef comes to the table and explains each dish, where the ingredients are from, the inspiration, etc. There are some nostalgic surprises along the way, which come from my childhood food memories. 

It’s a concept we’ve all worked very hard on. It’s such an enjoyable experience, and it’s nice interacting with guests and seeing them enjoying it, talking about their own childhood and making a connection with it. It makes all the work over the last five years worth it. 

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