Ashley Palmer-Watts - Rendered on: 18/03/2018 17:16:48

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Job Role

Executive Chef


Dinner by Heston


Ashley Palmer-Watts is executive chef of two Michelin-starred restaurant, Dinner by Heston, London.
Born and bred in Dorset, Ashley’s career started working for a local restaurant aged just 13 and then later picking watercress on a local farm. After dining at Heston’s The Fat Duck in Bray one night with friends, Ashley wrote to the chef himself asking for a job.
In a matter of weeks a position became available and the young chef was taken on as part of the team. His journey has since seen the chef ‘s career skyrocket leading to Ashley being made head chef of Dinner in 2003.
After developing dishes together inspired by Britain’s past the pair opened Dinner by Heston in 2011 situated in the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park. The idea behind the restaurant was to find a common ground between Heston’s two other restaurants, The Hinds Head in Bray and The Fat Duck with a strong focus on using Britain’s history as the backbone for the food and the concept behind the restaurant.
Dinner received a Michelin star within its first year of opening followed by a second a few years later in 2014.
Inspired by historical recipes from 300, 400 and even 500 years ago Ashley and the team’s goal with Dinner is to emulate these recipes with a modern twist. The pair even contacted food historians and researchers to garner an accurate representation for the food they were recreating. Further inspiration also came from Heston’s Channel 4 TV show, Feasts which saw the chef recreate famous period dishes and feasts for 21st century diners.
The food at Dinner has gradually evolved since it first opened six years ago now offering more ‘refined’ dishes that are both bolder and cleaner. Advances in technical abilities have also helped improve the way the dishes are prepared and presented reflecting the restaurant’s growth from when it first opened its doors over a decade ago.
Popular dishes on the menu include Meat Fruit (c.1500) which is Mandarin, chicken liver parfait & grilled bread and Tipsy Cake (c.1810).
Despite the name, Dinner is open for both lunch and dinner seven days a week. Working alongside Ashley in the kitchen are 51 chefs who work four days a week and 65 Front of House staff including the wine team.
Looking ahead, Ashley is keen for Dinner to expand and would like to open at least two more establishments within the next five years. He also hopes customers dining in more than one of the restaurants will receive a fluid experience between each venue.
Since the opening of Dinner in London, Heston and Ashley have gone on to open a second Dinner, this time in Melbourne, Australia. The new venture has meant Ashley’s role now requires him to look after both establishments with a strong focus on growing both teams and learning how to manage two restaurants that are on the opposite sides of the world to each other.