02 Aug 2017
A 50 year love affair with Cotswold hotels
Sometimes people ask me how a Frenchman and his wife come to own a hotel in Burford, and I tell them there’s a short answer and a long answer.
The short answer is that – a few little business detours aside – being a hotelier and restaurateur is all I have ever really known, ever since starting as a very young apprentice (see picture above) at Les Violettes in my home town of Montpellier.
The longer answer goes into a bit more detail about where I worked along the way, and without boring you with all the details there were some wonderful places. After I finished off my apprenticeship at Maison Trois Gros in Rouanne, I ended up as first head waiter at Le Gavroche at 24, in London working for the Roux brothers, Albert and Michel (Snr). It was wonderful. Michel Roux Jnr (he of Masterchef fame) was there too, but mostly playing with the pots and pans in the kitchen while his father and uncle worked! I wonder if he remembers..
A few hotels and clubs later I went into business with Jack Greenhalgh, the father of my first wife, and together we acquired three hotels in the Cotswolds – the De la Bere (now Ellenborough Park) on the outskirts of Cheltenham, the Close hotel in Tetbury and the Petty France, outside Tetbury. And so began a chapter in the 1970s and 80s where a lot of hard work would bring wonderful rewards and quite a reputation for all three, especially the Close when it came to food.
When we opened the Bull we set out to make it a fine dining experience morning, noon and night. We won awards and rosettes but over time we found that the locals and tourists wanted something a little more modern and accessible. We continue to tinker with the food and beverage, and I think that over time we’ve hit on a nice balance of delicious food, made on site with local produce which offers a lovely variety.
And for the month of August we have a special School holiday special offer where for each adult main course ordered, one child eats free on our kid’s menu. We didn’t do that at the Close!
Pablo’s Top Tip: The Perfect Poached Egg
I was recently asked by a guest after breakfast the secret for cooking the perfect poached egg! In consultation with our head chef Pablo I can pass on these words of wisdom:
Crack each of your eggs into a cup. Get a pan of water so it’s simmering nicely and add a tablespoon of white wine vinegar (this helps the eggs cook faster). Stir your water to make a whirlpool effect in the pan (this will help the eggs bind together and not go everywhere in the water). Then gently tip the egg into the water, white first. Cross your fingers! After three minutes remove the egg with a slotted spoon. Depending on who they’re for cut the rough edges off and serve!
In the next Bulletin maybe we’ll do the Hollandaise sauce?
Jean-Marie Lauzier, owner, the Bull at Burford