Hand-picked places to eat, stay, shop & cook in the South West

Meet the chef - Chris Cleghorn of The Olive Tree

Published on May 22, 2014
Home » Good stuff » Meet the chef – Chris Cleghorn of The Olive Tree

The Olive Tree restaurant’s head chef Chris Cleghorn has worked with Heston Blumenthal, Michael Caines and Adam Simmonds. He talked to food about inspiration – and why he wishes he’d concentrated more in maths class

Chris Cleghorn, head chef of The Olive Tree restaurant in Bath

Salty or sweet?

I have a terrible sweet tooth – desserts have always been my favourite.

Early food memory

My nan’s cooking when I was young. She’d cook homemade roast beef and cakes, which were excellent.

Like to eat out?

It depends on my mood but I like fine dining restaurants as a way to learn and find inspiration – it opens your mind to other ideas. I ate at Whatley Manor recently and it was exceptional.

Feeling inspired by?

I love asparagus at the moment. We chargrill it for an earthy flavour and it keeps that lovely bittersweet taste. Wild garlic is another favourite – it’s great chargrilled too as it intensifies the flavour.

Wish you’d known ten years ago?

I wish I’d known how important maths skills are! Working out costings is a big part of your job as head chef.

Fave pub?

The Red Lion in East Chisenbury, which has a Michelin star but which is very unpretentious. The food is clean and crisp, and of a really high standard.

Favourite way to cook?

The classical way – roasted in a pan in the oven – that’s how you get the most flavour out of everything.

Like to have supper with?

Gordon Ramsay – he’s a chef I admire. It’d be interesting to hear his stories. Thomas Keller [of The French Laundry in California] would be good too, I’ve always found his food very interesting and he’s a great chef.

Favourite weekend breakfast?

French toast with smoked bacon and maple syrup.

On the up?

Barbecuing and chargrilling is becoming more popular, as are foraged ingredients. I also think fine dining restaurants are making a comeback, with top quality, locally sourced food, knowledgeable staff and everything else that you’d want – but served in a more relaxed atmosphere. Value for money is important: our tasting menu is £65 and we don’t use cheap cuts, because it’s all about creating an experience.

4-7 Russel St, Bath, Somerset BA1 2QF

01225 447928