Meet Ben Chaplin; Head Chef at the Lace Market Hotel
Nottingham’s iconic hotel, the Lace Market Hotel, reopened its doors after extensive refurbishment in late 2015. Its aspirational restaurant Merchant’s and traditional British pub, the Cock & Hoop, are already proving popular so we caught up with Head Chef Ben Chaplin to find out about his foodie inspiration for the venues.
You’re originally from Nottingham – what’s it like returning to the city?
It’s been fantastic. When I came back to Nottingham from Manchester I had big ambitions, focussing on creating something new and exciting with the food offering here. I think we’ve achieved a lot in the short time we have been open and we have lots still up our sleeve.
What are the benefits of starting from scratch with a newly opened property?
Everything is mine. I haven’t had to inherit anyone’s cooking style or menus. I’ve had the freedom to create dishes I’m passionate about using the ingredients I choose. I’ve also been lucky enough to hand pick my team, who all share my vision for Merchants and Cock & Hoop. Working together from the beginning has built a really strong team behind the scenes in the kitchen, one that is developing a reputation for delivering exceptional food.
Your team is delivering everything from traditional pub meals in the Cock & Hoop to aspirational fine dining in Merchants – which style of cooking do you prefer?
I have to say both. The Cock & Hoop menu is quality pub fare – pure ‘make-you-feel-good’ comfort food at its finest. It’s relaxed and relatable. Everyone can enjoy a really great plate of fish and chips or home-made pie. I like that the Cock & Hoop offers something for everyone.
That being said our aspirational offer in Merchants is something special. Every dish is an opportunity for me to express myself on a plate, and experiment with new techniques and ideas. I can get creative with it and have fun in ways I can’t at Cock & Hoop so it’s fantastic to have the opportunity to do both.
Do you have a signature dish?
I wouldn’t say I have a signature dish because I think style, technique and taste evolves. My focus is on making all of my dishes the very best they can be.
Are you using any local suppliers for the menus?
We use a number of local enterprises including Fruit Basket, Outpost Coffee and The Fishmongers from Victoria Market. It’s important to support other local businesses and Nottingham has a really rich source of food and drink suppliers.
What would be your ideal last supper?
Definitely a Sunday roast and a Banoffee pie for dessert! Hearty, flavoursome comfort food.
And who would be fantasy dinner party guests?
Marco Pierre-White and Aiden Byrne.
Marco trained under Albert and Michel Roux, went on to train the likes of Gordon Ramsay and was the first British chef to be awarded 3 Michelin stars. His success has been phenomenal and his food and approach to cooking is an inspiration.
I worked alongside Aiden in Manchester. He taught me a lot about the importance of having passion for my food, how to push the boundaries and how to manage a team.
For more information visit www.lacemarkethotel.co.uk