Yorkshire Life Lunch - Aldwark Manor, near York

PUBLISHED: 14:51 06 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:11 20 February 2013

Pastry chef Ben James and head chef Bruce McDowell

Pastry chef Ben James and head chef Bruce McDowell

Bruce McDowell has returned to Aldwark Manor as the new head chef and has big plans for the future, as Esther Leach reports. PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANDY BULMER

It wasn't long before head chef Bruce McDowell had guests at the Yorkshire Life Lunch eating out of his hand, not literately you understand, but following his every word as he demonstrated the art of eating oysters. They were Loch Fyne oysters on ice and they soon disappeared, washed down with a glass or two of a fine wine.

The lunch was held at the four-star Aldwark Manor Hotel, near York, part of the QHotels Group, which has welcomed Bruce, once their senior sous chef, back to manage all aspects of the hotel's catering operations, including its award winning two AA Rosette restaurant. 'This is a fantastic hotel that not enough people know about,' said Bruce who has 18 years experience in the hotel and restaurant business. 'I want to help put it on the map in Yorkshire.We will be offering modern English and traditional Yorkshire fayre, using top quality ingredients from local suppliers.'

Bruce was born and raised in York, and trained at York College before beginning his career at Claridges in London. Since returning to Yorkshire in 1991 he has held senior roles at places such as Linton Springs, Balmoral Hotel, Dean Court Hotel and The Living Room. He opened and was head chef at the Loch Fyne restaurant in York and worked as northern region trainer for Loch Fyne restaurants.

Aldwark's general manager Deborah Heather added: 'Head chef is a key role in the hotel.We are delighted to have someone of Bruce's calibre and experience who can not only maintain but enhance the hotel's reputation for fine, well-prepared, good value food.'

Wines were supplied by Bibendum Wine, London and one of its experts Nick McNally explained the qualities of each. The Bruno Paillard Brut Premiere Cuvee NV served with the oysters was made, he said, from the finest, most gentlest pressing, the Premiere Cuvee. The style is fine with plenty of tiny bubbles exploding on the pallet, good fruit present and some toasty brioche bread flavours.

The Poachers Blend - St Hallets Semillon/Sauvignon/Riesling, Baroosa Valley, Austria served with the pressed terrine of ham, had an exciting blend of grapes, good citrusy flavours and a long finish, an excellent accompaniment to spicy and oriental style dishes.

Lagrein Rosato - Alois Lageder, Alto Adige, Italy, served with the main course is a rose made from the Lagrein grape indigenous to Alto Adige. Lageder is probably the finest name in the region for quality and the wine sings and dances with black cherry and loganberry flavours.

Aldwark Manor was added to the QHotels portfolio in 2006. As well as a two-rosette restaurant, it has 55 bedrooms, six conference rooms, which can seat up to 240 delegates, an 18-hole golf course, plus a fully equipped leisure club and state-of-the-art spa.

To find out more about Aldwark Manor visit www.Qhotels.co.uk

Nick McNally can be contacted for more information about the wines served on 07976 722592 or email him on nmcnally@bibendumwine. co.uk. Or visit www.bibendumwine. co.uk

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