One Warwick Park hasn’t even opened but Tunbridge Wells’ most luxurious hotel is already creating quite a stir. Ahead of its June launch we spoke to Marco Goldin the restaurant’s new head chef about his culinary vision and why diners can expect a truly authentic Italian experience
Being charged with the task of creating a first class restaurant for one of the area’s most highly anticipated four star gold status hotels would be a daunting prospect for most – but not, it would seem, for Marco Goldin.
The 43-year-old Italian has just been appointed executive chef at Tunbridge Wells’ One Warwick Park and he is absolutely relishing the challenge.
“I’m feeling very good, very positive,” he confirms as we sit down over coffee to discuss his new role.
“I have been really welcomed here. Coming from London where it’s faster, tougher and there’s more pressure I have been shocked by the positivity. It’s so much more relaxed.”
This, Marco says, has already helped him forge good relationships with his colleagues and local suppliers thus ensuring everyone is on board to deliver a restaurant that eclipses the competition.
Having lived in the UK for the past five years Marco’s professional CV reads like a foodie lover’s dream.
He has worked for the prestigious Caprice Holdings group who own The Ivy, J Sheekey and Daphne’s – where Marco was Head Chef, and also for D &D London who own famous eateries including Le Coq d’Argent, Quaglino’s and Cantina Del Ponte, where Marco was in charge.
Before accepting the job at One Warwick Park he was Executive Chef at the Royal Academy’s Keeper’s House restaurant.
During his illustrious career Marco has also travelled all over the world, from Los Angeles to Spain and Malaysia, satisfying his appetite for producing great gourmet food.
Can he define the vision for his new restaurant – which we can reveal will be called L’Amore which is Italian for love – and what does he want to bring to Tunbridge Wells that is new and exciting?
“Ultimately I want to amaze and for people to experience my style of cooking,” he declares.
“I come from Venice, in the North East of Italy and since working in London I have noticed that most chefs reference only the South of Italy in their cooking. I want to provide diners with a whole experience of the country.
“In Italy every region has a different plate or delicacy” he continues. “Things can totally change just three kilometres down the road. And not everyone eats tomatoes! Where I come from they are a thing for summer. In the north we have more cheese, more pork. I want people to see there are different types of Italian food.”
Over the past month Marco has been doing a lot of planning; speaking to local suppliers and sourcing the best produce in order to make customers fall head over heels in love with L’Amore.
“I want to let the quality of the ingredients speak for themselves and to make people happy,” he states.
“Being Italian, sitting at the table is all about the chance to communicate with people. It’s not just a meal, it’s convivial. It’s about relaxing, laughing and eating with pleasure.”
When it comes to summing up Marco’s cooking style it would seem that less is more.
“I don’t want to dress dishes up with too much sauce. When you have good quality products you don’t need to add anything else. The plate of food should say it all.”
L’Amore’s menu will change according to the season and what’s available. Marco doesn’t believe in offering dishes that are always set in stone. “The menu should always be constantly evolving.”
There will also be plenty of local gourmet produce to enjoy. Does he have any favourite finds from the area yet?
“I think the local meat is very good. I also love asparagus, artichokes and seagull eggs. I love their flavour. Try pan frying them and adding a little truffle oil on top,” he suggests.
Marco is also a big fan of experimenting with foods à la Heston Blumenthal who he cites as a culinary inspiration along with Marco Pierre White.
“I love the technical side of food, all the little chemical things – it’s like a game. I love coffee, tobacco and to mix these into food to create smoky flavours.”
“When I was in Spain I worked with Ferran Adria, head chef at El Bulli. I also admire the great Italian chef Guactiero Marchesi. I am inspired by what they have done. They use whatever they have and create something amazing.
They are more than just chefs, they are alchemists.
“When you understand how to do that you have the power to transform food into something else, to create something great on the plate.”
So what will set L’Amore apart when it opens in June? “To offer food with real taste” he swiftly responds. “A different taste, a Marco taste…”
One Warwick Park which is part of Markerstudy Leisure opens in June 2016. For more information on the hotel visit www.onewarwickpark.co.uk