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In the kitchen with Rob Kennedy

Our Executive Head Chef, Robert Kennedy joined the team in November 2019 and is already making some exciting changes to the food offering here at The Lensbury…

Having cooked for Royalty in the past, The Lensbury members are in good culinary hands with Rob at the helm of the kitchen brigade and we are looking forward to some exciting developments in the kitchen.
We wanted to learn a bit more about the man behind our menus, so we managed to grab ten minutes in amongst his busy schedule to find out a bit more about our very own culinary hero.

Tell us about your plans at The Lensbury?

We have recently launched our brand new spring menu in the lounge, featuring some stunning local and seasonal produce – I do hope you will get a chance to enjoy some of these new dishes. I am looking forward to looking at the wider food offering in the coming months.
I love the grounds, the sporting influence and the fascinating history behind the club and I am looking to take inspiration from all three areas to create delicious food with a modern twist.

Do you have a preferred local producer/supplier?

I am forging new relationships with some of the best local suppliers and I am really looking forward to moving to a new meat supplier in West Sussex, so that we are able to showcase the best British meat on our menus. All our fresh fish comes from Brixham market and we provide a “catch of the day” on our conference menus. Seasonal vegetables will continue to be used ensuring flavours are always at their best.

When did you first realise you wanted to become a chef?

As a young boy I used to visit my Nan and Granddad’s farm every weekend in the fenlands of Cambridgeshire. My cousins and sister would work on the land, but I was too young to harvest or work with machinery.
My days were inspired by watching my Nanny Winnie in the kitchen – it was a pleasure to learn and of course taste all of the wonderful food! She would never weigh anything out but the finished sweet or savoury dish was incredibly simple and tasty which is perhaps where I got my chefs intuition from. From this very young age and moments in the kitchen, I knew I was happy with the surroundings of recipes and cooking, which encouraged me to take my passion for food into a career.

Which was the first restaurant you worked in?

I didn’t actually start my career in traditional restaurants, interestingly my first job as a chef was working in Princess Ann’s headquarters in Surrey, whilst I also studied at college once a week.
After six months I was moved into a more senior role before graduating from catering college and working in my first management role at the age of 19. My experience with cooking for Royalty continued and I have been lucky enough to cook for Her Majesty, The Queen five times in my career.

What has been the biggest influence on the way you cook and why?

I had the great pleasure of meeting and working with Jean Christophe Novelli and Marco Pierre White. Besides the pressures of the kitchen both chefs were able to express passion that became both infectious and inspiring for me personally. This produced a mind set for me that food needs to be enjoyed, unrushed and delivered with pride and quality. Something I now live by…

How would you describe your cooking?

My food is very traditionally British with a focus on flavours and textures, allowing the very best quality ingredients to shine through in any dish. Food should be an experience of enjoyment and excitement combined together.

What is your favourite food?

Personally, I love to BBQ so this opens my favourite ingredients to lots of delicious flavour. Tender cuts of meat like a saddle of lamb will always get my vote as they are beautiful even before a marinade.

Do you have a guilty food pleasure?

Yes, I love cheesecake as it’s so diverse in with regards to recipes and flavours. It offers that delicious creamy set or baked texture with crunchy biscuit, what is not to love – A real winner! My favourite variety has to be chocolate orange!

Tell us something we would not know about you?

I love culinary competitions and have entered a few in my time – having won over 85 culinary awards including two Olympic Gold medals “individually” and for the England National Team! Competitions are great, especially for our younger chefs. I find the achievement and recognition that comes along with these awards, drives me and the team to success.

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