Hotel Cateys 2022: Hotel Chef of the Year (fewer than 250 covers) – George Blogg, Gravetye Manor

07 December 2022
Hotel Cateys 2022: Hotel Chef of the Year (fewer than 250 covers) – George Blogg, Gravetye Manor

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As executive head chef of Gravetye Manor, George Blogg has responsibility for all food offerings at the hotel and is an integral part of the senior head of department team.

He runs a 48-cover, Michelin-starred main restaurant, with a breakfast and all-day dining service as well as a standard restaurant service of up to 120 covers. This is achieved through the management team of 25 chefs and porters.

Blogg has recently celebrated eight years at Gravetye Manor, where he has developed the food offer to be one of the finest in the country. He has overseen the creation of the kitchen garden, which supplies over 60% of all the fruit and vegetables used at the hotel. This is done with care, attention and an eye on efficiency, too. For example, he has stopped growing micro cress and is instead putting efforts into growing outdoor perennials that flower and seed naturally. This provides more flavour intensity as well as a product that takes far less time to care for.

Meanwhile, Blogg has a firm hand on the business side and has turned his attention to average spend rather than number of diners. He has reduced dining covers from 65 per service to 48 and has still shown an increased revenue with much improved costs. He has also changed how the business records spend data in order to analyse it effectively, and has tweaked the order of service to show an increase in average spend.

Restaurant lunch guests are almost entirely made up of non-residents, demonstrating the appeal of the restaurant Blogg has worked so hard to develop, and menus change monthly to make the most of the constantly changing produce grown on-site. Non-resident dinner guests (an important KPI at the hotel) stand at 45%. With non-residents spending on average £30 more a head than those staying at the hotel, this growth has a significant impact.

In terms of his team, Blogg places great emphasis on mentoring chefs and encouraging them to develop. He mentored a chef de partie into the final of the Craft Guild of Chefs Graduate Awards, as well as guiding an NVQ level 3 apprentice to a distinction. He has also supported his head chef into the final of the Craft Guild of Chefs National Chef of the Year after a second place finish in 2021.

Staff retention rate is 80%, with the majority of those supported throughout the first lockdown still working in the kitchen. That impressive figure may be down to the four-day week Blogg introduced, with a 48-hour working contract as standard for all full-time employees. On top of that, his team is offered discounted gym memberships, coffee chats, late-night cinema trips and bowling competitions.

Blogg has also completed the first year of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Adopt a School programme at a local primary school, running three 1.5 hour classes to groups of children who were invited to the hotel for a tour and tasting. This is now set to be an annual event.

What the judges said

"George has taken the culinary offering at Gravetye Manor to another level. Not only has he retained both a Michelin star and four AA rosettes for a number of years, he also goes above and beyond with mentoring and training his team."

Simon Young

The shortlist

George Blogg, Gravetye Manor

Will Holland, the Atlantic hotel

Luke Matthews Chewton Glen

Past winners

2021 Hrishikesh Desai, Gilpin, Cumbria

2019 Lisa Goodwin-Allen, Northcote

2018 Adam Smith, Coworth Park

2017 André Garrett, Cliveden House, Taplow, Berkshire

2016 Phil Carmichael, Berners Tavern at the London Edition

2015 Matthew Tomkinson, the Montagu Arms hotel, Beaulieu, Hampshire

2014 Steve Smith, Bohemia, St Helier, Jersey

2013 Sam Moody, Bath Priory, Bath

2012 Richard Allen, Grand Jersey Hotel and Spa

2011 Adam Simmonds, Danesfield House Hotel and Spa, Marlow

2010 Shay Cooper, the Bingham, Richmond

2009 Kenny Atkinson, Seaham Hall Hotel and Serenity Spa

2008 Simon Radley, the Chester Grosvenor and Spa

2007 Hywel Jones, Lucknam Park

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