Interview & Recipe from Horto Head Chef Murray Wilson

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We caught up with acclaimed Yorkshire Chef Murray Wilson, Head Chef at Horto, Rudding Park’s summer pop up to discuss the concept, the menu and what you can expect from a visit to one of Yorkshire’s most exciting new restaurants.

How did the idea of Horto come about?
After a fair amount of chatting between myself and Rudding Park we had decided to setup in Rudding Park’s main house, but in the 11th hour changed to the Golf Club and to make it a bit more of an experience. It seems to have worked out well with the amazing views in the evening and the restaurant decor itself. It’s quite individual here – it’s nice to be a part of Rudding Park but also have the restaurant’s own identity.

How did the menu concept evolve?
We had multiple discussions about this and felt that having one menu in the format of a tasting menu is the best thing to do. It allows us to be a lot more flexible and creative in the kitchen. It allows for a much better service and workflow. Everything’s planned out and we know ahead everyone’s dietary requirements.

How is it working with a kitchen garden?
Its great working with Adrian the kitchen gardener, I find out from him what he’s got coming up, ask him to plant certain things, what we’d like to use and what we’d feel would be right for this time of year. We’re finding that a kitchen garden can dictate what proteins we’re using on the menu as appose to it being the other way round. Most people are like ‘I want to do a beef dish what goes with beef?’ Whereas we have an abundance of baby fennel at the moment so we’re tailoring it around that and the dish may only be on for tonight and tomorrow and once its run out we’ll change the dish. We’ve got some really nice globe artichokes at the moment that we are pairing with lamb sweetbreads and a barbecued onion broth. It’s great to have vegetables so fresh, the beetroot gets picked at 8pm and after being washed they’re getting cooked by 8:30am.

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Where would you say your cooking style or inspiration comes from?
It’s a difficult one to answer as I don’t like the term classical or modern, I’d say it’s just about balance. We use a lot of modern equipment and techniques but also a lot of classic techniques like roasting and barbecuing. It’s about trying to find that balance of using the technology or the processes to enhance the flavour as appose to manipulating it and losing it all. “Like the tomato and mozzarella dish?” That’s a good example, we’re using really nice ingredients like the English mozzarella which we whip through the air gun, then we use old techniques like dehydrating the tomato, then ultra-modern techniques like the tomato water. Instead of hanging it in muslin cloth for 12 hours were spinning it in the centrifuge for 20 minutes. It’s very fresh and very clean. It’s a good example of how we use the technology for the better and how it enhances the dish.

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Aside from the kitchen garden where do you source other ingredients? Do you try to get as much local produce as you can?
Most of it is local but that’s because we’re fortunate enough to be in Yorkshire and it’s so good for produce. There’s good meat, there’s good fish. Our venison is just from down the road. The fish is landed in either Whitby or Hartlepool. At the same time we have got some fantastic red prawns from Portugal, bright red the whole way through. We barbequed them and they’re the best prawns we’ve ever had so there’s no reason not to use them, but on the other side we’ve got wild salmon from the River Esk, that’s local by chance and there’s no reason not to use it as it’s the best. We want to use the best ingredients and have that balance.

Is there a favourite dish you have on the menu at the moment?
Probably the Yorkshire Crab dish, we’re using Whitby crab, a variety of Yorkshire peas, shelled and podded, pea sorbet and pea water, buttermilk and horseradish granita and flowers from the kitchen garden. It’s a really rounded dish and I love crab, also there’s a few variations of the same ingredient.

Download Murray’s recipe for the Horto Yorkshire Crab Starter here

Rudding Park Horto - Yorkshire Crab, Peas, Buttermilk, Horseradish 16

What can people expect when coming to Horto?
Guests can expect a diverse menu, a relaxed environment and we’re very interactive with the bench out in the restaurant with myself placed out here finishing the cold dishes, it adds a bit of theatre in the restaurant. We also invite guests into the kitchen to show them some of the toys or up to the front to show them how desserts are finished with the liquid nitrogen for example.

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Tasting Menu £55 per person
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Find out about our gastronomic experience at Horto here.

Download Murray’s recipe for the Horto Yorkshire Crab Starter here

Visit Horto’s dedicated page here.

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