Good food, good company

Peppered beef

Peppered beef - Credit: Archant

For Sean Byrne, head chef at Stanbrook Abbey, food has always been a sharing experience

Tuna Nicoise

Tuna Nicoise - Credit: Archant

Name: Sean Byrne

Restaurant: Stanbrook Abbey

Address: Callow End, nr Malvern, WR2 4TY

Tel: 01905 830195


What is your earliest memory of food?

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In my grandmother’s house in Ireland; big old, black stove, leek and potato soup, salty butter and soda bread straight from the oven.

Tell us about your menu.

Contemporary European, fresh and seasonal. A little bit classic, a little bit modern.

How often do you change your menu?

Sometimes weekly and some menus are monthly/quarterly. We have many different menus for different events: weddings, Sunday lunches, private dining, etc. Many are completely bespoke.

Which dish on the menu would you recommend to a customer?

I am loving my dehydrated raspberry Pavlova, with lemon curd, crème Chantilly and black pepper cinder, washed down with a glass of Laurent Perrier Rosé, just now. Beautiful in the summer.

What initiated your interest in cooking?

Large family meals around the dining table at my parents’ house. Great company, great food, and my Mom always served up a feast. It was a time for good conversation and relaxation with loved ones. For me that is happiness.

What’s in your fridge at home?

My lad Luke is having his favourite tonight – monkfish with smoky bacon and podded peas. I also have milk, country butter and a nice bottle of Petit Chablis for the grown-ups.

How would you describe your approach to food?

Simple and uncomplicated. Let the food speak.

What advice would you give to a novice?

Work so hard that your seniors become your competition. Work clean, listen, watch, take notes and be humble.

Have you ever had any cooking disasters?

I won’t mention where, but I burnt 300 portions of pommes Biarritz 10 minutes before service.

What has been your most memorable meal?

When my parents retired back to Ireland I quickly got all the family around and we had a fantastic meal for probably the last time ever as a group.

Which chef has been your greatest inspiration?

Hands down, Alain Ducasse.

What would you recommend about the local area?

As well as a plethora of local fruits and cheeses, there is the cathedral in Worcester, Morgan Cars and the beautiful Malvern Hills.

What is your favourite local ingredient?

Snodsbury Goats’ Cheese. It is tart, salty, creamy and punchy... wow!

What is your favourite local restaurant?

The Venture Inn, at Ombersley. It goes unassumingly about its business and is all about the food.

Why should people visit you?

We give people great food and service in amazing surroundings. We are a one-off venue that people keep coming back to.

What would you choose for your last meal on earth?

Anything I could share with my wife and twins.


This article is from the September 2014 issue of Cotswold Life.