Hudsons by Craig Atchinson opened its doors inside The Grand York a year ago, bringing top-end dining to the city. Savour chats to Craig Atchinson about his new menu and how home-grown produce is still at the heart of the venue.
I remember being nervous… about serving a tasting menu in Hudsons when we first opened – a menu that didn’t give people a choice. I was going to offer two fish and two meat dishes but Stephen Wilkinson – senior AA Hospitality inspector – advised against it.
The menu has now changed… it’s still a tasting menu, but the dishes reflect the season, so it’s very autumnal and features game.
I wasn’t brave enough… to put grouse on the menu. I love eating it, but as a chef, I’m used to strong tastes. We’ve never featured grouse before, so I wasn’t sure how it would be received. I’ve stuck with venison. It’s more familiar and accessible. It’s a lean, tender meat which is one of the most talked-about dishes.
It’s vital to… let the guys on the team have their own creativity. I’ll give them a piece of mackerel or partridge and tell them to come up with a dish for the next day. You have to keep people motivated and engaged. There’s not a prouder moment for a chef than to see his dish on the menu.
I love… mushrooms. A morel or a cep are my favourites, as they’re rare. If you’re out foraging and find a cep, it’s like winning the lottery. It’s so rare to find one that has not been attacked by birds or worms, so when you do, it’s the most satisfying feeling in the world.
When you’re working with foraged produce… you have to be prepared to change your menu quickly, which is challenging, especially if you have been working on a dish for a while. Ingredients are no longer available, such as bilberries, which have been completely fried by the sun.
I’m working on a… beetroot dish. It’s hay-smoked beetroot with air-dried duck. We have a great duck supplier from Thirsk. It’s dried out so it’s as hard as a brick, then we grate the duck over the dish, which features pickled beetroot, crisp beetroot and reduced beetroot juice with buttermilk.
I prefer… autumn to summer. Everything’s earthy with strong flavours. We’ve got beef short rib on the menu with caramelised onion puree and shiitake mushroom jam. It features puffed tendon, which is cooked, frozen, sliced, dehydrated then fried. It adds texture to the dish, which is finished with powder of onion seeds and malt vinegar powder to give it a sweet and sour taste.
We’re working on… a rooftop garden where we can grow produce. I’m in talks with a local beekeeper, as we’d like to keep hives. I’d love to be able to take guests up there before their meal, and make it a pre-dinner experience, explaining their dishes.
My aim is to… tell the story behind everything we do, such as the handmade vases on the tables in the restaurant created by a local potter. We have a carpenter working on some new tables for us for in the restaurant. We want to change the atmosphere so it’s more relaxed and informal – so people don’t feel the need to whisper.
We want Hudsons to be more… accessible. You don’t have to wear a ballgown to come here. We’ll be changing the front-of-house uniforms, too, and the music. It’s grown organically during the last year and now we’re looking to create a more casual vibe.