What goes behind crafting a stellar dish at The Gainsborough Bath Spa?
A taste of Britain
The Gainsborough Bath Spa (a property of YTL Hotels) might have a stellar reputation of exquisite thermal pools, majestic pillars and glass roofs reminiscent of the Roman century, but above all that — most flock to the luxurious hotel, specificially to dine at The Restaurant at The Gainsborough, helmed by head chef Dan Moon.
Last year, the award-winning establishment officially renamed itself to Dan Moon at The Gainsborough Restaurant — a prestigious milestone in line with Chef Dan's accolades and personal prominence as a creative changemaker in the industry. Prior to that, the restaurant had also received three Rosettes from the 2017 AA Hospitality Awards, solidifying their presence as one of the finest in England.
It is also a tremendous feat for a chef, which arose from Chef Dan's distinct culinary direction — stemming from ever-developing menus, pioneering techniques and theatrical presentation. Below, the renowned chef sits us through his mind-boggling process of conceptualising a dish, as well as how the inheritance of Asian flavours have made a difference in his craft.
Where do you go to get your source of inspiration?
Produce and seasonal cooking. The seasonality of produce is generally my starting point for all my dishes. However, I constantly look and question everything, with a view of elevating and further developing dishes rather than starting from scratch.
Talk us through your process when conceptualising a dish.
I begin with which protein I am going to work with, be it fish or meat. Then I decide which vegetables will accompany it, as well as micro cresses, which are baby shoots of various vegetables, plants and fruit that are packed with raw flavour and colour. Next, I decide which crockery I will present it on. Crockery is very much like a blank canvas, but it comes in a huge range of shapes and colours, both of which can help accentuate the food. Finally, we move into the tasting and experimentation stage where we make sure the dish is balanced and that there is an array of textures that stimulate the palate. The dish has to have both the depth of flavour and a visually appealing appearance, as people inevitably eat with their eyes. It is a never-ending process.
What is the one dish that first-time diners have to try at your restaurant?
My signature Creedy Carver Duck. The duck is from Exeter where I trained as a chef and it's a regional Southwest speciality product. The elements of plum and sesame are my nod of the hat to YTL Hotels' heritage and Malaysian influence.
Tell us about your proudest moment throughout your career.
I'm honoured to have my name put above the restaurant at The Gainsborough; this is my proudest moment so far, building on my Acorn award and then being awarded 3 AA Rosettes for the second time.
You were recently cooking in KL for the Guest Chef Dinner Series and in Singapore for our #BuroSocial with YTL Hotels. What are some similarities or differences that you experienced during your stint here?
Similarities: Well drilled, passionate chefs. Differences: Different produce, cultural differences and of course the temperature!
Do you have any favourite local dishes?
Malaysia/KL's famous Hokkien Mee.
Current favourite food/flavour at the moment?
Hands down, yuzu — a hybrid lemon from Asia. It's used in another of my signature scallop & king prawn dishes.
Where in the world would you go if you had to travel for food?
I've always loved Italy and Italian produce for its fresh pasta, extra virgin olive oil, tomatoes, charcuteries... the list goes on and on. But that said, my time in Malaysia significantly increased my appreciation of produce and techniques from Asia.
If you could eat one thing, every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Garlic. I can't imagine not using it. Apart from its flavour and versatility, it has amazing health benefits.