Taste Jersey 2019

25th February, 2020

Taste Jersey 2019

During Taste Jersey, St Brelade’s Bay Hotel will be offering special packages for the three-course menu, overnight stay and breakfast. Prices are £129 (based on two people sharing a room) Monday-Thursday and £159 for stays on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays.

They say that ‘who dares wins’ and, in the case of Alex Apatachioae, that expression seems to be accurate.

The Romanian national first developed an interest in cookery through watching his mother prepare the family’s meals but it wasn’t until he had completed his National Service that he first considered cooking as a career option.

‘It actually started as a joke with a friend,’ he smiled, ‘but at catering college, I discovered the wow factor. I absolutely loved it.’

After a stint at a large restaurant in Bucharest, Alex’s culinary journey took him on a voyage around Europe, Asia, South America and Antarctica, as he joined a cruise ship, becoming part of a team responsible for catering for over 1,000 passengers every day.

‘It was a great experience but it didn’t lend itself to family life so when I became a father, I returned to land, working initially in Bucharest and then moving to Ireland for two years.’

Never having been to Jersey before, Alex came to the Island in 2010 after a friend, who was working at the Old Bank House Hotel in Jersey, encouraged him to apply for the role of head chef.

‘I had to look up Jersey on Google, as I didn’t know anything about it,’ he laughed. ‘However, that one summer season has turned into nine years, and I am still here. Jersey is very much my home now.’

Not only has Alex made Jersey his home, but he has made the kitchens of St Brelade’s Bay Hotel his professional home, rising through the ranks from sous chef to executive head chef – a position he took up in October following the retirement of former head chef Franz Hacker, who had worked at the hotel for 37 years.

‘Franz was very well known in Jersey and it was a great honour to work alongside him for seven years. Everybody now thinks I am the “new chef” at the hotel but I have been here a long time so people won’t see any dramatic changes to the menu or style of food we serve,’ he said.

While the menu changes daily, one thing that remains constant is the range of local produce served.

‘It is very important to me to support local producers, and the quality of the food is very good,’ said Alex. ‘For Taste Jersey, we will feature a range of local seafood including scallops, crab meat and lobster, as well as Jersey beef, which is always very popular.’

And the theme of subtle change and continuity is one which extends beyond the kitchen, and is very much at the heart of the hotel’s ethos.

As general manager Thomas Stene explains: ‘We have many guests who return on holiday year after year, and Island residents who regularly dine with us, and they all ask us not to change anything.’

Despite these requests, guests returning in spring 2020 will notice some small alterations to the hotel’s décor, particularly in the dining room where a carefully orchestrated refurbishment has taken place over the winter months.

‘Everything had to be meticulously planned, as the hotel remained open throughout the year,’ explained Thomas. ‘While we are very sensitive to both the hotel’s character and our guests’ tastes, it was time for a bit of a refresh. We have replaced the carpet, reupholstered the chairs and removed some of the wooden panelling in the dining room, replacing it with window-style mirrors to reflect the views across the bay and lighten the room.

‘The changes are purely cosmetic though,’ he continued. ‘Many of our guests have been staying with us every year for 20 or 30 years, and they come back so often because of the views, the food and the service. That is the core of the hotel’s DNA.’

This view is echoed by restaurant host Leon de Biasi who, having worked at the hotel for 56 years, is a familiar presence to its many returning guests.

‘We are like a family here,’ he said. ‘All the departments work together to give the guests the best possible experience. Many of the guests have become friends after coming here so often. We know which table they like, what they prefer to drink and it is because of this service that so many of them book their next holiday when they check out.’

The hotel has also become a meeting ground for new friends, who have bonded over cocktails by the pool.

‘I joined the hotel just over a year ago and wanted to spend some time meeting the guests so I introduced weekly manager’s cocktails evenings,’ said Thomas. ‘Not only were these evenings an opportunity to get first-hand feedback from the guests about their stays but they also led to guests making friends. We now have guests co-ordinating next year’s visits so that they can see each other again.’

While the hotel’s grounds and the beach just across the road are clearly big attractions – ‘guests comment that as soon as they step outside, they feel as though they are on holiday,’ said Thomas – the hotel’s spa and fitness centre is also a draw.

‘The spa is a core part of the hotel,’ Thomas explained, ‘and is the only spa in the Island to use the Caudalie range of skincare products.’

A family-run business, Caudalie developed from the wine-making estate on which founder Mathilde Bertrand was born. The wine element remains central to the products, with treatments including a wine-maker’s deep tissue massage.

‘As well as the spa, we offer a range of fitness and wellbeing classes including yoga and spinning,’ said Thomas. ‘These facilities, combined with our function room overlooking the bay, make the hotel ideal for conferences and team-building events as well.’

And whether you use the facilities for work or pleasure, what better way to relax at the end of the day than with an aperitif in the bar?

‘We have live music in the bar every evening except Monday, and also on Sunday lunchtimes,’ said Thomas.

During Taste Jersey, St Brelade’s Bay Hotel will be offering special packages for the three-course menu, overnight stay and breakfast. Prices are £129 (based on two people sharing a room) Monday-Thursday and £159 for stays on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays.

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