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Published on : Wednesday, June 29, 2016
If the idea of golf club food conjures up images of nachos and club sandwiches, the appearance of Stoke Park Country Club, Spa & Hotel’s executive chef on the forthcoming BBC series of Great British Menu might change that perception.
Multi-award-winning Chris Wheeler, who joined Stoke Park – one of just two five-AA Red Star golf clubs in England – in 2003, has been building up its culinary reputation since, achieving three AA Rosettes for its fine-dining restaurant, Humphry’s, as well as overseeing the entire culinary operation.
Wheeler, who will be competing in the south-west region of the programme, was spotted and nurtured from a young age by the multi-Michelin star celebrity chef Jean Christophe-Novelli. Originally from Swanage, in Dorset, Wheeler was the Frenchman’s right-hand man for 10 years – learning, gaining experience and all the while developing further his passion for food.
He is already a familiar face to fans of TV cookery programmes, having appeared on Hell’s Kitchen 2, Chefs Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, Sunday Brunch and Saturday Kitchen, but this is the first time he will be going head-to-head with other leading chefs in a tense competition to bake the ultimate banquet.
Wheeler explained: “I’m really looking forward to being a part of this series of Great British Menu. It is such an honour to be a part of the show and to be able to have the chance to come up with some fabulously creative ideas.”
This year the series is making history by becoming the first TV show to be filmed in the Palace of Westminster. And the winner will be given the prestigious prize of cooking at a banquet in honour of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II’s ‘Great Britons’.
In the regional heats, the chefs’ dishes will be judged by eight competition veterans, including Daniel Clifford, Simon Rogan, Phil Howard, Richard Corrigan, Michael O’Hare and Angela Hartnett.
The two chefs who score the highest will then present their four-course menu to award-winning restaurant critic Matthew Fort, the doyenne of British cookery, Prue Leith, and acclaimed restaurateur Oliver Peyton. And each week the panel of three will be joined by a guest judge who has been fêted in his or her field.
Together, with the Great British Menu judges, they will decide which chef will be the champion of their region and worthy of, potentially, becoming an ambassador for contemporary British cuisine. The eight regional winners will then compete in the national finals for a chance to cook at the Great Britons’ Banquet at the Houses of Parliament.
Stoke Park’s director of golf, Stuart Collier, added: “We are obviously very proud to have Chris as our executive chef and while his main role may be in the fine-dining restaurant here at Stoke Park, he also oversees the menu in the golf clubhouse and is responsible for choosing what goes on it, when, and how it is prepared.
“To have a chef of that calibre responsible for the food in a golf club is extraordinary really, and it’s just another reason why Stoke Park is a unique venue in golf.”
Set within 300 acres of beautiful private parkland estate in Stoke Poges, Bucks, Stoke Park is only 35 minutes from London and seven miles from Heathrow Airport. Laid out across 300 acres of mid-19th century, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown-landscaped parkland, the 27-hole golf course was designed by the legendary Harry Colt in 1908.
It is one of just two five-AA Red Star golf clubs in England and the historic land on which it stands is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. The historic course played host to the PGA Matchplay in 1910 and, even more famously, the golf match between Sean Connery’s James Bond and Auric Goldfinger, in the 1964 film, Goldfinger. It also has a thriving golf club with around 800 active members.
During the winter of 2015/16, every bunker on the Colt course – the first nine holes of the historic 27-hole layout – underwent major renovation to both shape and size, as part of a seven-figure investment in a facelift of the whole course.