Galton Blackiston

Galton Blackiston

Galton Blackiston

Galton Blackiston, a long time champion of local Norfolk produce, has enjoyed over twenty years in the Good Food Guide for the high quality, unpretentious food he serves up at Morston Hall.

Galton Blackiston, so named because of his relation to acclaimed 19th Century anthropologist Sir Francis Galton, had initially planned on pursuing a career as a professional cricketer but it was adolescent entrepreneurship that made him realise the culinary world beckoned. When he was 17 years old Galton Blackiston ran a stall selling homemade cakes, biscuits and preserves on at a market in Rye to make extra money, and the range of ‘Galton’s Goodies’ proved such a success that he would frequently sell out by lunchtime. Realising that his talents lay in cooking as well as sport, he decided to focus on a career as a chef.

Swapping wickets for chef’s whites and with no formal training under his belt, his first job in catering was with the legendary John Tovey at Miller Howe, the world-renowned Windermere hotel. While this may have been a rather spontaneous decision – his parents were on holiday at the Miller Howe when they discovered there was a position vacant in the kitchen – Galton Blackiston spent four years working in the pastry section, gaining creative skills and indulging his love of desserts. He flourished under Tovey’s tutelage, eventually becoming the hotel’s head chef.

After periods of work experience in London, New York, South Africa and Canada Galton Blackiston and his wife, Tracy, looked for somewhere to settle and run a business. Eventually they found Morston Hall, a picturesque Jacobean country house with 4 rooms and a 20 cover restaurant located just a stone’s throw from the North Norfolk coast. Since Galton and Tracy Blackiston opened Morston Hall it has enjoyed an impressive 22 years in the Good Food Guide, more than doubled its number of rooms and covers and is widely considered to be a jewel in the crown of Norfolk’s up and coming food scene. In 1999 the restaurant was awarded a Michelin star, an accolade it has retained ever since.

Galton Blackiston offers diners a set menu prepared from fresh, seasonal produce sourced from premium local suppliers – menu stalwarts include Morston mussels, Blakeney lobster and Norfolk duck – and, as if county-wide produce wasn’t quite local enough, Morston Hall also boasts its own kitchen garden where herbs and salad are grown throughout the year.

His approach to cooking is, quite literally, simple; ‘simple things done well are better than complicated things done badly’. Quality is very much the watchword in Galton Blackiston’s kitchen, who believes above all in consistency, and letting fine, fresh produce speak for itself. It is an attitude that is much applauded by critics and diners alike, who admire the chef for his lack of pretension and dedication to sourcing first-class ingredients.

As a former pastry chef Galton Blackiston is a self-proclaimed pudding fanatic. While he relishes the opportunity the dessert plate brings for a chef to get creative, his belief in simple perfection is not absent in the sweet course and there is ‘always room for the classics’ on Morston Hall’s pudding menu. From Sticky toffee pudding to Norfolk raspberry trifle, Galton Blackiston’s puddings are far from over-egged.

Given Galton Blackiston’s famous sweet tooth it is unsurprising that another of his passions is ice cream, inspired by a short-lived – yet infinitely memorable – summer job in the South of France. Morston Hall’s changing daily menu will almost always contain a different flavour of ice cream or sorbet every night of the week, ranging from seasonal classics like blood orange sorbet to more unusual concoctions, such as lemon thyme and mint ice cream.

Galton Blackiston has run cookery demonstrations at Morston Hall for many years, giving participants the opportunity to try out recipes, learn about menu planning and speak to the chef about any culinary questions they might have. He has published four recipe books – Cooking at Morston Hall (2002), A Return to Real Cooking (2006), Summertime (2009) and Hook Line Sinker (2017) – and in 2013 opened a traditional fish and chip shop in the Norfolk town of Cromer, offering high quality local ingredients at affordable prices.

Galton Blackiston is also an active member of the Norfolk community, running ‘teach ins’ at schools across the county. Here he shares the basics of cooking ‘good, nutritious food’ with child-friendly recipes, passing on his passion for fresh, local produce to future generations of budding Norfolk chefs.