Personalisation is being dished up for guests at Boringdon Hall Hotel, who can have special food memories recreated by the head chef Scott Paton – but the option comes at a hefty price.
The Devonian country house hotel has launched a Tasting Menu to Remember package where Paton will transform the taste of nostalgia into a bespoke culinary experience. Guests can share three dish suggestions up to two weeks prior to dining.
However, the food is not the only part of the deal – instead, it’s part of an overall experience created by the hotel. Priced from £975 per couple, the package includes the creation of a five-course tasting menu with matched wines, an overnight stay in one of the hotel’s luxury suites, welcome gift upon arriva; and a 60-minute treatment per person at the hotel’s spa.
“We had guests celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary with us and they asked me to incorporate their wedding dessert of lemon meringue pie into their tasting menu using my imagination and creativity to make it just as memorable as the first time they shared it on their first date 16 years ago,” Paton said.
“The result – a glazed lemon mousse, zingy sorbet, creamy lemon posset to be made to look like a tiny lemon, topped with toasted meringue for softness, dried meringue for crunch and yuzu marshmallow for intrigue. The dish was officially born, and a memory recreated.”
Not just romantic memories
Boringdon Hall’s Gallery Restaurant has been awarded three AA Rosettes, while Paton won Best Chef at Food Magazine Reader Awards in 2017.
Other food memories Paton has been challenged to recreate include a husband who thought it would be funny to incorporate pickled onions into a celebratory meal he was having with his wife – a reminder of her cravings for the preserved veg throughout her pregnancy.
“We homemade some pickled jam and added it to one of our summer dishes – aged beef, new season alliums and summer truffle,” said Paton.
Even a gift of honey from regular guests to the hotel inspired a new dish for Paton.
“That evening when we served them dinner in The Gallery we had made a new dessert with it – honey posset, apricot, Sauternes, elderflower. They loved it so much, it is now on our summer menu,” he explained.
While research has shown people are keen for personalisation, does Sparkie think they are willing to pay the price?
This is interesting but it really takes some digging on their website to find this option. It is positioned way after all of the regular services a hotel and restaurant is expected to offer. A lot of that price tag will certainly come from the room and the other extras they have added there. The personalised food seems more like the advertisement to get people to pay for the other stuff.
Ultimately, I think this is a risky business. You have to have a special level of trust in your chef to pull this off because if he ever makes something based on a treasured memory which isn’t good – it’ll be perceived as far worse than it actually was.
The other side of this is the labour. Head chefs tend to be stretched as it is with the running of things, the paperwork and staff management. If this truly takes off and you had several couples at once, it could soon become a full-time job just to manage the development. Good luck to them. I think if you are confident in being able to pull this off, it could be a good venture but it’s not one for the faint hearted.