Executive Chef Jon Machin tempts you to the table
Jon Machin has a career trajectory which is every aspiring chef’s dream. He started from humble beginnings in his hometown of Barnsley at the age of sixteen, fell into a career as a commis chef, then through a series of happy coincidences (and no doubt talent and hard work), secured the opportunity to work on a deluxe cruise ship to travel the world. He rose through the ranks to eventually work on the super-yacht Octopus for the late Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen.
Here was a different world, of finding a way to spit-roast a lamb for a medieval banquet on a yacht in the Caribbean, ordering Belgian black truffles to be flown into St Barts the day before Christmas eve and rushing to the market near Cap Ferrat to secure blue lobster or Charolais beef.
“It really changed my perspective. I made connections all over the world and travelled to Hawaii, Antarctica, Rio de Janeiro and everywhere in between,” said Jon. “On a cruise ship in the Seychelles, we set up a BBQ on the beach. They use coconut shells instead of charcoal and the heat is unbelievable. That caught me out!”
It’s made him the chef he is today – he’s classically British trained but loves to bring an international twist to everything he does. Above all, Bath Spa hotel is the place he always wanted to return to after he worked here more than a decade ago.
Jon said: “It’s where my heart’s always been. I’m extremely proud that I’m here and I’ve turned it around. I’ve stripped it back, got my team onside and got them to believe in me. Our philosophy here is casual dining, easy food using top quality ingredients. All our fish and meat is wild and sourced from Scotland. You can graze, have a sharing plate and a glass of prosecco with friends, or join us for Sunday lunch with the family in our beautiful, airy brasserie where you can spill out onto the terrace on a sunny day. Choose from a traditional roast or try something new.
“I like to add a twist to all our dishes. A traditional breakfast of ham, fried eggs and beans is transformed into ham hock, baked beans, chorizo and a duck-egg with toasted brioche. Our mussels are served in Bath Gem Ale with Guinness bread and we’re currently serving a lovely light plate of heritage tomatoes with goat’s curd and basil – such a summery dish, with the sugar and acidity of the tomatoes contrasted by the creamy goat’s cheese.
“I love barbecuing too. My menu includes coca cola pulled pork and Jacob’s ladder ribs. I cook it slow, for eight hours and finish it with a maple Jack Daniels glaze. It’s a cut of meat that’s chopped short on the ribs and the meat is very dark and rich – it really melts in the mouth. We love vegetarian food too, there’s always a wide selection on the menu, according to the season.
“Our afternoon tea definitely has the wow factor. As a chef, I eat out a lot, and I love going to the Ritz and the Savoy, so I take inspiration from everywhere I go. All our cakes are home made by our pastry chef and we always add seasonal twists. Our macaroons are currently apricot and peach. We know that you eat with your eyes, too, so they look spectacular. I get great pleasure in seeing the afternoon tea tiers going out – every one is a work of art.
“The team and I talk about food all the time. We’re always looking to improve and be better. I just love this property. I cooked here for Michel Roux twelve years ago and I’m so delighted to be back with new ideas and to have the opportunity to shape it into something wonderful. We want our clientele to have a great experience here and go away remembering all the good things, whether it’s just coffee or a glass of prosecco with nibbles, right through to Sunday lunch with the family. Just seasonal, top quality food and great service – a relaxed, delicious place to be. And that’s just the start – watch this space!”