Sat Bains is one of Britain’s most revered chefs and despite more than 30 years in the industry, he is still looking to blow people away. By Michael Parker, deputy editor, The Staff Canteen
His eponymous restaurant is Nottingham’s only Michelin-starred venue and it’s no surprise, as Sat Bains’ cutting-edge methods continue to keep him at the culinary forefront.
The restaurant is set within an industrial estate just off the A52. You will need to drive under a flyover and pylons before reaching it and as first impressions go, you could quite easily mistake it for just another run-of-themill motorway service station rather than a two Michelin-starred restaurant. But the acclaimed chef hasn’t let the unassuming location deter him from delivering the best gastronomic experience the city has ever known.
“I think what we do is very much dictated by the location. I think if we went somewhere else it would be very different,” says Sat.
Originally named Hotel des Clos, the venue was rebranded when Sat was appointed head chef and made partner in 2002. A year later, the restaurant earned its first Michelin star – which was also a first for Nottingham.
After achieving the accolade, Sat’s profile went through the roof with critics and peers alike praising the chef for his avant garde tasting menu. In 2011, the restaurant earned its second star in the guide making it a true destination for food lovers who travel from all parts of the globe to taste Sat’s incredible dishes.
To this day, Sat’s ethos remains the same as it did 15 years ago; ‘to give incredible food that’s in season and that’s been sourced with great artisans and suppliers’.
The Derby-born chef runs the restaurant with his wife Amanda, and head chef John Freeman mans the kitchen. Over the years, the restaurant has undergone several extensions and developments, which include an urban kitchen garden and a self-contained, six-seater dining area: Nucleus.
“I think back to when we introduced the development kitchen, it was something I saw at el Bulli, Catalonia and Heston was doing it too, so I just thought what a great idea that you can get away from the hustle and bustle of the small kitchen and just kind of play around,” says Sat.
In terms of food, his philosophy very much revolves around celebrating the best in local produce, choosing to use nearby estates and local farmers for his ingredients. His menu also features game, which he introduced after shooting with fellow Michelin-starred chefs, and close mates, Tom Kerridge and Claude Bosi.
“We’re the middle people and the customer is the end user, so we have to show respect throughout the chain,” Sat explains. “We have to treat it with respect and the customer is the benefactor.”
With two Michelin stars, a number four spot in the Good Food Guide 2018, five Rosettes from the AA Restaurant Guide, the list goes on, the former Roux Scholar says he feels the restaurant has really evolved and the team has grown as a family.
“I think we’ve really pushed forward with our identity,” he explains. “We’re trying to make food which is unique and exciting. As you get older, you get more mature and settle into your identity.”
But Sat says he is looking towards the future and is ‘still attacking’ and ‘still hungry’ to find ways to better himself and his restaurant.
“I’m still looking for advancement of flavour, I’m still looking to eat something that’s going to blow people away or that makes me say, ‘I can’t wait for you to try this’.”
And with global domination on his mind (Sat would one day like to own one of the best restaurants in the world) we have no doubt the chef will not be resting on his laurels anytime soon.
“We’re trying to make food that is unique and exciting and we’re trying to build this into a world- class operation.”
Download The Staff Canteen app Chef+ and watch the full interview with Sat and see him cook three dishes from the menu at Restaurant Sat Bains.