What better time of year than this to express your warm ‘n’ fuzzy feelings on a plate? We ask three Kent chefs what they’ll be serving to those they love this Valentine’s Day....

Great British Life: Marcin SzelagMarcin Szelag (Image: Saltwick Media)

Marcin Szelag, Executive Group Chef for The Woolpack at Warehorne woolpackwarehorne.co.uK

I’m originally from Poland and came to England in 2005. The Gypsy Tart is a dessert native to Kent and once discovering it when moving to Folkestone, I fell in love with its simplicity and sweet symphony of flavours. I learnt from locals that many people remember this pudding from school days, and I love the nostalgia it brings with every bite.

It is a pudding that I've enjoyed cooking on Valentine's Day in the past, which is why I wanted to share with you.

Marcin Szelag

Great British Life: Who doesn't remember Gypsy Tart from their schooldays? Give it a whole, new romantic spin this Valentine's Day Who doesn't remember Gypsy Tart from their schooldays? Give it a whole, new romantic spin this Valentine's Day (Image: wikicommons/Magnus Manske)

Gypsy tart recipe

With a name and ingredients list that conjure up a sense of wild abandon, you should six to eight portions out of this delicious recipe, so you can show your love to plenty of people! Gypsy Tart only needs a few ingredients and can be made in advance - but it certainly requires culinary TLC for the best results.You'll need to chill your tin of evaporated milk in the fridge overnight, and whisk it for as long as 20 minutes until the mixture is thick and fluffy. Once it's made, though, all you'll need to do is serve it, leaving more time to enjoy conversation over dinner.


410g (a can) of evaporated milk (1 can), chilled unopened overnight in the fridge

340g muscovado sugar

1x 25cm x 4cm blind-baked tart case


Whisk the sugar and milk together with an electric whisk on a medium speed until the sugar is fully dissolved and

the mix is fluffy and has thickened. This takes longer than you think - allow around 20 minutes. Pour the mixture into the tart shell all the way to the top,

Cook in a pre-heated oven at 180C/160C fan/gas 4. for 10 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool, at which point the filling should fully set.

Serve at room temperature.


Great British Life: Akos MateAkos Mate (Image: Saltwick Media)

Akos Mate, head chef at Rocksalt in Folkestone rocksaltfolkestone.co.uk

'Crafting Beef Wellington is like orchestrating a love story in the kitchen. It's not just a meal; it's a flavourful journey that mirrors the patience and precision required in nurturing relationships over time.

Imagine this: a day spent cooking together, weaving memories as you prep the Beef Wellington. The kitchen becomes a canvas for shared stories, laughter, and the simple joy of enjoying a glass of wine while creating something special. The real magic happens when you take the Beef Wellington out of the oven. It's like unwrapping a delicious surprise—a golden-brown masterpiece. The first cut becomes a shared moment of excitement, revealing whether your culinary teamwork has reached perfection.

Cooking together isn't just about the food; it's a celebration of connection. The layers of flavours in the Beef Wellington reflect the complexity of love, making this Valentine's Day meal more than just a dish—it's a delightful experience that lingers in the heart.'

Great British Life: Beef WellingtonBeef Wellington (Image: Getty)

Beef Wellington recipe

Truly a labour of love, but so worth it. The story goes that the dish was created to celebrate the Duke of Wellington's defeat of Napolean at the Battle of Waterloo - so you'll know which Abba song to play as the soundtrack to your romantic meal! Serves four

For the Wellington

400g mixed wild mushrooms, roughly chopped

Half a bunch of chives, parsley, chervil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil, for cooking

750g piece of beef fillet (centre cut)

1–2 tbsp English mustard

6–8 slices of Parma ham

500g ready-made puff pastry

2 egg yolks, beaten

4 Pancakes (see below)

Portion of chicken mousse (see below)

For the pancakes

40g plain flour

1 egg

130ml milk

Pinch of salt

Pinch of chopped parsley, chervil, chives

Put flour, salt, egg and milk in mixing bowl and whisk until smooth with out any

lumps. Add more milk if needed. Pass through fine chinois and add the chopped

herbs. Heat up non stick pan and wipe with oiled kitchen paper. Pour enough pancake

mix to thinly cover the bottom of the pan and fry until golden brown (both sides)

For the chicken mousse

1 small chicken breast

50ml double cream

Pinch of salt

Place all the ingredients in the food processor and blend until smooth. Remove from

the bowl and pass through fine drum sieve to get rid of lumps.

Making the complete Wellington


Put the mushrooms into a food processor with some seasoning and pulse to a rough paste. Scrape into a pan and cook over high heat for about 10 minutes, tossing frequently, to cook out the moisture from the mushrooms. Spread out on a plate to cool.

Add chicken mousse, chopped herbs and pinch of salt.

Heat a frying pan and add a little olive oil. Season fillet and sear in the hot pan for

30 seconds only on each side, to colour.

Remove fillet from pan and leave to cool, then brush all over with mustard.

Roll out a length of cling film on work surface and lay out Parma ham on it

in overlapping rows. With a palette knife, spread mushroom paste over ham,

then place the seared fillet in the middle.

Keeping a tight hold of cling film, neatly roll the Parma ham and mushrooms over the loin into a tight barrel shape. Twist ends of the cling film to secure. Chill for 15–20 mins to allow the loin to set and keep its shape.

Again roll out a length of cling film on your work surface and lay out pancake on it in overlapping rows. Remove cling film from chilled fillet and place fillet on top. Twist into barrel shape, twist ends of the cling film to secure and chill for another 15-20 minutes.

Remove the cling film. Roll out the puff pastry on a floured surface to a large rectangle, the thickness of a £1 coin and lay beef in the centre. Brush surrounding pastry with egg yolk. Fold ends over, then wrap pastry around loin, cutting off any excess. Turn over, so seam is underneath, and place on a baking sheet. Brush pastry all over with egg and chill for about 15 minutes.

Heat oven to 200˚C/Gas 6.

Lightly score pastry in criss-cross pattern, if you wish, and glaze again with egg wash. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 180˚C/Gas 4 and cook for another 15 minutes. Allow to rest for 10–15 minutes - it should be 28ºC in the centre when it comes out of oven and fillet should still be pink in centre when you serve it. 


Great British Life: Robin Read of The CounterRobin Read of The Counter (Image: Saltwick Media)

Robin Read, The Counter, Tunbridge Wells thecountertw.com

'Don't try to be too fancy with what you you serve, and put plenty of time into advance planning and food prep. If you cook and are passionate about it for the one you love, they'll be able to taste that. ... also plan and prep with plenty of time'

Great British Life: Baked Turbot with Leek and Potato AgnolottiBaked Turbot with Leek and Potato Agnolotti (Image: The Counter)

Baked Turbot with Leek and Potato Agnolotti recipe

Succulent turbot enhanced with the finest ingredients plus plump parcels of home-made agnolotti pasta - what's not to love?

500g – 600g whole turbot, on the bone

For the agnolotti

225g Tipo OO pasta flour

4 egg yolks

2 eggs

Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

For the agnolotti filling

1 leek

300g Red Desiree potatoes, of a similar weight and size

1 egg yolk

50g butter

Sea salt and pepper

For the Velouté

250ml good quality chardonnay wine

3 shallots, thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, sliced

200ml double cream

1 lemon, juice and zest

Sea salt and pepper

Pinch dried lombu flakes

Pinch dried dulse flakes

1 tblspn chopped chives

10g Keta caviar

10g Oscietra caviar

For the chive emulsion

120ml Rapeseed oil

1 egg yolk

1 tblspn chopped chives

1 tsp. white wine vinegar


The day before you plan to eat, remove head and tail from turbot (reserve and use to make fish stock).

Prepare fish by cutting bone down centre. Make a quick brine by combining 500ml water, 25g sea salt, 1 teaspoon kombu flakes, 1 teaspoon dulse flakes and stir well to dissolve salt. Submerge fish in brine for 12 hours.

To make the pasta

Knead flour, eggs and extra yolks together for a couple of minutes then leave to rest under a damp cloth for 20 minutes. Knead for a further 10 minutes or until silky-smooth to the touch. Cover and leave to rest in the fridge.

To make the potato and leek filling

Keeping the potatoes whole and unpeeled, place in pan of cold water and sea salt, bring to boil and cook gently till cooked through. Meanwhile finely dice leek and cook in butter until soft and tender.

Once potatoes are cooked, drain and allow to steam for five minutes, before cutting in half and pushing through sieve. This should leave the skins behind (and these are really tasty baked or fried and dusted with parmesan!)

Mix potatoes with leek and butter and add egg yolk. Check and adjust seasoning and put mixture into piping bag with plain nozzle.

To make the pasta

Using machine or long rolling pin, roll out pasta until thin and pipe filling along its length. With a pastry brush, lightly wet on one side of filling and fold pasta, making sure filling is well sealed in. Pinch pasta every 3cm to make a small pillow and cut through with a pasta roller. Store on a lightly floured tray in the fridge, or blanche for 30 seconds in boiling water and refresh in iced water. Drizzle with olive oil and store in fridge till needed.

To make the velouté

In a saucepan cook shallots, garlic and a pinch of sea salt in a little butter till tender. Add wine, kombu and dulse and reduce to one-quarter of original volume. Add cream, bring to boil and turn off heat. Add lemon zest and squeeze of juice and cover with lid to infuse flavours. After 10 minutes, pass sauce through a sieve. Finely chop chives and set aside with caviar to add later.

To make the chive emulsion

Combine yolk and vinegar and slowly pour oil into mix, whizzing with a hand blender until it thickens to a silky sauce. Mix in chopped chives. Add to a piping bag with smallest nozzle.

To assemble the dish

Set oven to 180 degrees

Remove turbot from brine and pat dry with kitchen paper. Lightly oil and place on a baking tray in oven for 8 minutes, Leave for five minutes to rest. If the skin and fillets don’t remove from bone easily cook for a little longer.

When ready to serve, bring small pan of water to boil, drop in agnolotti and cook for two minutes. Gently remove fish fillets from bone, remove skin and place onto serving plates. Gently reheat velouté sauce and when hot, add caviar and chopped chives. Plate the agnolotti on the fish, pipe the chive emulsion and serve with a generous amount of sauce.