Chef of Chef Works: Ales Maurer APRIL 2023
Chef: Ales Maurer.
Restaurant/Kitchen: The Lygon Arms.
Location: Broadway, The Cotwolds, UK.
Social Media: @lygoncotswolds - Instagram
This month we’re delighted to introduce Chef Works wearer Ales Maurer – Head Chef at the beautiful Lygon Arms, nestled in the picturesque village of Broadway in The Cotswolds. Since joining this stunning property in 2010 as Sous Chef, Ales, now their Head Chef, has played a key part in the Lygon Arms’ success and outstanding reputation for great hospitality. Get to know Chef Ales here…
1. Your restaurant/role:
Our restaurant upon appearance is grand with high ceilings, a minstrel gallery and marble tables. My role is to pair the menu with a laid-back welcoming atmosphere.
2. Describe your kitchen:
Our kitchen has just been fitted with Electrolux’s latest equipment which will keep the team cool in the heat of summer. The kitchen is very well laid out with space for each section. We have loads of storage and great organisation. One of the best kitchen spaces I have worked in. Our team is enthusiastic with a lot of stamina (we are a busy place!) They have a passion for food and each member brings their own unique qualities.
The stunning original features of the Lygon Arms dining room.
3. Favourite Chef Works item and why?
My favourite Chef Works item is my grey Springfield chef coat. The zip closure makes it easy to wear all day, also the cooling mesh on the side is amazing during the summer months.
4. What was your first job?
Being from the Czech Republic, my first job was working in Prague in the Presidential Palace, so quite a unique start and setting.
5. Favourite cookbook and why? (we love recommendations)!
I have two favourite cookbooks. Larousse Gastronomique; it’s a French encyclopaedia of ingredients and cooking styles. Chefs everywhere still refer to this book for flavour combinations and menus all over the world use the French terminology, because that’s the original home of gastronomy. Then second, Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, is a book that I read on the plane to London to start my career in the UK. It gave a real insight to professional kitchens – the good and the bad. Although I believe the things that were written back then do not happen now it’s a much better life/work balance.
6. Your awards/career highlights to date?
I was never one to seek recognition, awards or the limelight, instead I focus on working hard and developing the reputation of the restaurant particularly with local guests and suppliers. I believe in forming strong relationships with our local suppliers, building a strong rapport and to securing the best produce available. I constantly learn from the people I work with, it is essential to have great team work and to look after the brigade at The Lygon Arms, many of whom have now been with me for many years. This is the key to making a success of our kitchen.
The classic 'must have' Beef Wellington at The Lygon Arms.
7. Your cooking inspiration and why?
My cooking inspiration comes from many sources. I can be a selfish Chef so I cook what I like to eat. With having great produce on your doorstep following simple flavour combinations makes inspiration easy.
8. Your speciality dish and what makes it so special (we love tasting notes)?
We did this dish in the past – Quail and Pork. It had pan fried quail breast, slow cooked pork belly, braised pork cheek, rhubarb, spring greens, apples, fondant and apple cider jus. It sounds complicated, but it looked amazing on the plate and tasted great.
9. Favourite go-to dish to eat and why?
I like to eat street food, nicely done, simple dishes but great flavours.
Ales in his grey Springfield chef coat complimenting the stunning marble tables.
10. Weirdest thing you ever ate?
Weirdest thing I have ever eaten was Surstromming (Swedish for sour herring). It is lightly salted fermented Sea Herring. It had the most putrid smell and an extremely strong taste. When I was travelling in Sweden, I wish I’d have asked for something else.
11. Favourite ice cream flavour and what do you pair it with?
I love all ice cream flavours therefore I’m not fussy! The best is freshly churned from the pastry kitchen with the biggest spoon I can find.
12. Favourite family recipe?
My favourite family recipe is whatever my wife cooks. She is a pastry chef so loves to cook meals for our family. The children love her Sunday Roast and she loves to cook vegetarian. I’m just happy for someone to cook for me!
13. Favourite wine – if you could only pick one which would it be?
My favourite wine is from the Languedoc and Roussillon region of France. Where we visit in the South, we are surrounded by vineyards and were able to sample all the local delights.
Cosy up by the fire after dinner at The Lygon Arms.
14. Who would you most like to cook for and what would you cook for them?
I’d like to cook for the all the 007s. I’m sure the conversation would be great. I always wanted to cook for Tom Kerridge and he has visited us a couple of times so that came true. A truly humble guy!
15. And who would you least like to cook for?
I wouldn’t like to cook for the best critiques in the world as I am sure that they would have an opinion to share.
16. Favourite things to do when not cooking:
My favourite thing to do when I’m not in the kitchen is to ride my chopper through the Cotswolds hills and to clear my mind. It’s my Yoga.
17. Your latest project:
The most recent project at The Lygon Arms was launching the James Martin concept for Grill and Tavern. A brilliant opportunity to be part of something special.
18. Favourite city, what makes it so special to you?
My favourite city is Prague, where I was born. It’s so diverse and full of history. Then Stockholm for its traditions and general good vibe!
19. Your greatest indulgence?
My greatest indulgence is when we have our family holiday to the South of France for 10 days. We visit all the local markets, sampling the amazing food and wine.
20. And finally, your all-time best culinary tip:
Best culinary tip is don't cut corners, always follow the recipe. Don’t overcomplicate it and always look at what's out there regarding seasons and availability, this way you are cooking with the best ingredients.
Photography: Jason Moore, food images and interiors by The Lygon Arms.