Wed, 25 Jul 2018
ONE of Newbury’s top hotels has welcomed a new head chef to its kitchen.
Darren Booker-Wilson has been appointed to the role at Donnington Valley Hotel.
Until recently he headed up the kitchen of the popular Bartholomew Street gastro pub The Newbury, where he earned a string of awards for his culinary prowess.
He has also appeared on BBC’s Great British Menu, serving as sous chef during the Olympic Banquet special in 2012.
Mr Booker-Wilson, whose accolades include winning Chef of the Year in the Berkshire and Buckinghamshire Life Food and Drink Awards 2017, credits his grandmother for inspiring him to become a chef.
He said: “ The smell coming from her kitchen was incredible and her cakes were always amazing.
“I love my job because no two days are the same and the atmosphere is really exciting.”
It isn’t the first time Mr Booker-Wilson has worked in the kitchen of the four-star hotel, as he was previously a chef there for seven years, from 1995 to 2002.
He admits that his fondness for the hotel runs deeper than professional nostalgia though.
He said: “My wife and I actually met at Donnington Valley and later got married there, so it definitely has a special place in both of our hearts.”
The new head chef has been hard at work redesigning the menus for the hotel, focussing more on creating dishes that can be enjoyed socially, such as sharing platters and carve-your-own Sunday roasts.
He said: “Good, honest food brings people together and we definitely want to create an atmosphere and a menu that complements the social experience of eating out.”
Ben Danielsen, who also recently became general manager at the hotel, said: “We’re really thrilled to have Darren on board with us.
“He’s got lots of experience, ideas and a real passion for the hotel, so we’re excited to see what he comes up with.”