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Alex Bond

Alex Bond

Alex left after two-and-a-half years at Restaurant Sat Bains. He worked at Auberge du Lac, Wild Rabbit and with Richard Turner at Turner’s in the years after, but it was the lessons learned at Restaurant Sat Bains that really defined the next stage of his career.

At Alchemilla, tucked under the arches of an old brick coaching house in Nottingham, Alex conjures dishes that sit on the cutting edge of British food. He uses a wide range of techniques – from dry-ageing and curing to fermentation and pickling – to coax incredible flavours out of ingredients you think you know. Particularly vegetables, as it turns out; though he serves meat and fish at Alchemilla, Alex takes particular pleasure in pushing vegetables firmly into the spotlight on his menus.

‘I used to do a lot of marathon running,’ he explains. ‘I just used to eat loads of chicken breast, green vegetables, rice, because that’s what you eat. After about three years I had this moment of clarity – I realised that I would never serve something like that, so why was I eating it?’ Alex’s wife Anna is a horticulturist, so the pair started to investigate alternative sources of protein, and new ways of cooking these ingredients. ‘We just started cooking our own vegetables at home and it was born from that.’

Case in point is a wonderful dish of ceps, aged beef and Marmite. The combination of ingredients on its own sounds great, but Alex employs various tactics to elevate this into a superb restaurant dish. Three different varieties of mushroom are cooked three different ways – ceps are sautéed, field mushrooms are confited in beef fat and white mushrooms are sliced and served raw – and the kitchen makes its own Marmite in house using leftover sourdough. The dish contains beef, but only in the form of an emulsion that is made using leftover beef trim. ‘We age all our meat in-house,’ says Alex. ‘When you age meat, the outside of the beef dries and goes mouldy. You can’t eat that because it’s all dried out, but that’s where all that cheesy aged flavour is, so when we trim it all off we infuse it into an oil and use that to make an emulsion.’

Alex’s delicious food has rightfully earned him a number of accolades including a Michelin star in 2019, but perhaps more importantly, it makes him a lodestar for modern British cooking. His food is born from practicality and sustainability as much as the pursuit of flavour; nothing goes to waste at Alchemilla and Alex’s dishes all have a touch of alchemy about them, taking something that many would throw in the bin and turning it into gold. That Midas touch is just a part of what makes him one of the country’s most exciting chefs; if British food starts to follow the path that Alex is charting, we’ll all be better for it.

Three things you need to know

Alex and Gareth Ward became close friends when they worked together at Restaurant Sat Bains, and Gareth is godfather to Alex’s children.

The Good Food Guide named Alex as its Chef to Watch in 2019.

Alex is a keen gardener and loves growing vegetables and plants to then cook with.