Head Chef: Scott Paton
Learn more about our Head Chef, Scott Paton...
What’s your ambition?
“Over the next 5 years, we want to become one of the Top 100 Restaurants in the UK, with a reputation for everything from canapés to fantastic main courses to afternoon teas. We want to get as close to perfection as we can.
Our long term ambition is to take a superb reputation, and to drive it on to a whole new level: outstanding food served in a relaxed, informal environment, with a focus on warm, friendly, attentive service and wonderful views."
This place has such a rich food history which goes back over 40 years – founder Sonia Stevenson was the first British woman to be awarded a Michelin star. I want The Horn to be back up there with the big boys in the South West.
What’s your background?
Prior to The Horn, I was at The Jack in the Green at Rockbeare, near Exeter, for 9 years. I worked my way up from washing dishes to Sous Chef. I guess is pretty rare to have stayed in one place for so long.
I joined The Horn of Plenty in August 2011, and taking the reins here has been the highlight of my career so far. I lead a team of 6 young, ambitious and incredibly talented Chefs – it gives me a real buzz to nurture young talent.
Describe your style of food
I wouldn’t say my food has a specific style, it’s not British, not French. My food is simply the food of Scott Paton at The Horn of Plenty. My food and my menus have been designed around the region, the location and the clientele. In terms of signature dish, I want to make sure that my food is always changing and moving with the times. Right now some of my favourite dishes are Whipped Sharpham Brie with truffled honey and spiced carrot salad, and our “Beef Rossini”: it’s a roast sirloin of beef with seared foie gras, Jerusalem artichoke purée and truffle jus. I’m also very proud of my milk chocolate mousse with banana & passion fruit parfait.
Do you grow your own produce?
We’re at the start of a journey, creating a new kitchen garden. We didn’t pick the best of years to start on this – far too much rain and not enough sunshine – but we’re on our way. We’ve seen our first butternut squashes, beetroot, berries, carrots, and onions. Next year we’re going to introduce Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, peas and beans. We’re looking at bringing in some hens too. We’re not going to be self sufficient, but it’s a great feeling to be cooking with freshly picked produce from our own garden.
Would you describe yourself as creative?
I think creativity is hugely important, but I’m never creative when I’m busy. I find I have my best ideas when I’m relaxing, often when I’m asleep. I often dream about what food should look like, then match flavours to suit. That’s kind of against the rule – most chefs start out with the flavours, then focus on making the dish look good. Having said that, here at The Horn we’re not about whacky food or clever food. We’re about taking the traditional and bringing it bang up to date with a touch of “wow”!
How did you get into cooking?
"My first experience of cooking was when I was 5, we had a French breakfast day in school where we made baguettes and hot chocolate. I have always loved cooking and as a kid I often made my family smile with my “strange concoctions”.
I was initially inspired to be a Chef by the adrenaline of a busy service, by the creativity and the buzz. I guess that’s still the case today, but it’s the combination of creativity and discipline which drives me. That, and the fact that you’re always learning, you never stand still. The thing I like least is having a quiet restaurant. I hate being bored!
Have you won any awards yet?
I’ve won some great accolades that I’m really proud of. In 2008 I won ‘dessert of the year’ from the Association of Pastry Chefs, and in 2009 I won South West Chef of the Year in the young professional class. In 2012 I was awarded “Culinary Expertise South West Chef of the Year” by Exeter and Heart of Devon Hotels and Restaurant Association. But best of all was The Horn being awarded "Best Fine Dining Restaurant" in the 2012 Food and Drink Devon awards.
Which chefs have influenced you most?
In terms of where I get my inspiration, there have been a couple of chefs who have really influenced me. Pierre Herme is a fabulous pastry chef who I was fortunate enough to work with for a couple of days. He’s known as the Picasso of Pastry, he’s the guy who brought pastry bang up to date.
I’ve also been hugely impressed by Tom Kerridge at The Hand and Flowers in Marlow. For me, he’s re-written the fine dining rule book. He’s just been awarded 2 Michelin stars, but there’s no white linen in the restaurant, no smartly uniformed staff, just quirky little pub with wonky tables and a fantastic atmosphere, but he’s managed to capture the essence of his pub in his food.