Daniel Teesdale, the new head chef at La Terrasse Restaurant and Bar at Hotel de France, offers a menu featuring authentic French dishes, but with influences from countries such as Vietnam, North Africa and India. Interview by Emily Moore
WHEN Daniel Teesdale names Marco Pierre White, Tom Kerridge and James Martin among the chefs whose style of cookery he admires, you start to get a feel for his own culinary approach.
‘I like their down-to-earth attitude and way of thinking,’ explains the new head chef at La Terrasse Restaurant and Bar at Hotel de France.
‘They cook in quite a traditional style while bringing a contemporary edge to their dishes, which keeps the offer fresh and exciting for diners.’
And it is this blend of the contemporary and the traditional which Daniel, working in conjunction with deputy general manager Philippe Maratier, intends to bring to the restaurant which, in keeping with the hotel’s heritage and architecture, will build a menu featuring predominantly French cuisine.
‘This is a really exciting time for the hotel as we welcome Daniel and look to establish La Terrasse’s identity,’ explained Philippe. ‘While we are keen to offer authentic French cuisine, we do not want to become entrenched in the classics. Instead, we will be taking inspiration from many of the countries – such as Vietnam, North Africa and India – which influence modern French cookery to create a broad and slightly quirkier offer, which will really stand out in the Island.’
Key to this vision is taking the highest-quality ingredients – many sourced from artisan producers in both Jersey and France – to make La Terrasse a destination restaurant for both Islanders and hotel guests.
‘It is really exciting to be joining the hotel at a time of change,’ said Daniel. ‘We effectively have a blank canvas and I am really looking forward to working with Philippe and the team here to bring that culinary vision to fruition.’
Having worked in the industry for more than 20 years, Leicestershire born Daniel’s introduction to professional kitchens came when he was 15, working as a pot wash in a local restaurant.
‘It was hard work but I loved the environment, the camaraderie and that sense of being part of a team,’ he said with a smile. ‘I hadn’t done much cooking growing up at home but that early experience prompted me to go to catering college, where the course involved spending one day each week in a professional kitchen.’
With his love of cookery firmly established, Daniel’s first position after college was in a four-star hotel in Market Harborough, after which came stints in various Two-AA-Rosette restaurants in Leicestershire and Manchester.
‘Most of the food was modern British and French, prepared using fairly traditional cookery styles,’ he said. ‘One of the restaurants – The White House in Prestbury – was popular with footballers, as a lot of the Manchester United team lived in the area. As I was in the kitchen, though, I rarely met any of the players – although I did bump into Robbie Savage in the car park on one occasion.’
It was in 2008, when Daniel was looking for a new challenge, that the possibility of a move to Jersey was first mentioned.
‘I contacted a recruitment agency to see what positions were available and they asked whether I had ever considered working in Jersey,’ he recalled. ‘To be honest, I didn’t even know where Jersey was at that point but, when they said it was the southern-most English-speaking part of the British Isles, I was immediately interested.’
His first role in the Island was as a sous-chef at The Somerville Hotel, where he spent four years before joining Château La Chaire for a year.
‘I then returned to The Somerville as the hotel appointed a Michelin starred chef, who had previously worked under Marco Pierre White, to lead the kitchen, and I was excited by the opportunity to learn from him,’ Daniel explained.
Remaining with The Dolan Group, he moved to The Merchant House Brasserie before gaining banqueting experience at La Mare Wine Estate and then spending time at Green Island Restaurant before returning to Château La Chaire.
‘Whenever I have moved, it has been to develop new skills and extend my experience,’ he said. ‘Having spent most of my career working in more traditional kitchens, I returned to Château La Chaire because the business had recently invested in all sorts of modern equipment, so it was a really exciting opportunity to modernise my skills.’
But, while constantly mastering new techniques, one thing which doesn’t change is Daniel’s love of the discipline of a professional kitchen.
‘I’ve worked for a number of chefs, nearly all of whom have been grounded in old-school discipline and I really like that ethos,’ he smiled. ‘Even though I’ve been a chef for more than 20 years now, I still get a buzz from the adrenalin rush of a busy service – and I know that there will be plenty of busy services here.’
Indeed, Daniel has joined Hotel de France at a busy time, donning his chef’s whites just a week before the start of Taste Jersey.
‘It’s a great time to join and, as well as launching La Terrasse, we have some really innovative events planned for Taste Jersey,’ he said.
One offer which will be available throughout the six-week festival is the hotel’s vintage afternoon tea, which features a range of classic finger sandwiches, scones, crumpets and traditional cakes.
‘The afternoon tea showcases a wide range of local produce, from crab, cheddar and black butter – something which I used to make when I was at La Mare Wine Estate – to local eggs and dairy products,’ Daniel explained. ‘The afternoon tea offer at La Terrasse is always very popular and, with Taste Jersey coming to an end on Liberation Day, it seemed appropriate to add a traditional twist to a customer favourite.’
Perhaps less traditional – for Jersey diners at least – are the hotel’s other two Taste Jersey events, a three-course Ayurvedic dinner at the end of April and a Smorgasbord evening on 1 April.
‘The Ayurvedic dinner is a very special event, run in consultation with Dr Prasanna Kerur, who runs our Ayush Wellness Spa,’ said Philippe. ‘He will give a talk at the beginning of the evening introducing the Ayurvedic principles of the three doshas – vata, pitta and kapha – and explaining how the principles of Ayurveda can help in creating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.’
While that menu has been designed with wellness in mind, the Smorgasbord event on 1 April is more informal, with a series of sharing platters designed to ‘champion as much local produce as possible’.
‘This evening is all about having fun and relaxing with family or friends,’ explained Philippe. ‘The platters will be placed in the centre of the table and everyone can help themselves to a range of hot and cold dishes, including oysters, La Robeline sausage rolls, Jersey beef patties and lobster rolls.’
And local produce features in the dessert section of the meal as well, with sweet treats including Cocoa49.2 truffles, made by Phani Kundeti in his St Helier home.
‘This is particularly meaningful for the hotel, as Kundeti was the head pastry chef and executive chef here for many years before he set off on his chocolate-making venture,’ said Philippe, ‘so it’s lovely to be able to serve his offerings to our guests once more.’
- Guests attending the Smorgasbord evening on 1 April can also take advantage of the hotel’s overnight bed and breakfast offer from £105 per room.