Get to know Daniel McGeorge, Rothay Manor

By Charli Tomney | 09/02/2022

Boasting 18 rooms in the idyllic Lake District and offering guests 3 AA Rosette fine-dining, Rothay Manor is the perfect place to explore the abundant surrounding landscape and relax in absolute comfort, even for furry guests as the hotel has a washroom especially for dogs.

Not only does the boutique hotel offer comfort, character, and charm, but the food on offer at the Grade II listed country retreat is just as luxurious, and in charge of this service is Daniel McGeorge.

Having worked in some of the UK finest establishments and won the 2021 series of the Great British Menu as well as the 2020 Acorn Award, McGeorge is no stranger to indulgence and guests of Rothay Manor can expect nothing less of splendid from the Liverpudlian chef, who’s signature dish is the ‘Give a Dog a Bone’ from the Manors menu.

But what inspires the award-winning chef?

rothay-manor-story-2What got you into cooking?

I’ve always had a natural interest in food, appreciating fresh seasonal produce and an interest in ingredients, or rather how to use them, but cooking wasn’t my first choice.

I started studying law but quickly came to realise it wasn’t for me. I learnt a vocation where I could focus my energy on something that enabled me to be creative and gave me versatility, was much more suited.

Which is how catering came about, I got my first job as a commis chef, and it was from there my real passion grew.

What do you enjoy most about your industry?

The sense of camaraderie, working in hospitality can feel like a labour of love at times.

It’s incredibly rewarding, versatile, and interesting, but the hours are long, you’re on your feet all day and there are times of high pressure during busy services. So, it’s super important to have a tight-knit team, who’re willing to pitch in and work together.

Our kitchen team is like a big extended family, we all support one another and have a shared respect for our peers, in my eyes, it’s the backbone of any hard-working successful kitchen.

On a personal level I love the creativity and the freedom for exploration within food. My brain is always ticking with new ideas, techniques, experiments – I can’t say they always work out the way I plan, but I love feeding that sense of adventure and evolving my tastes and culinary style.

What advice would you give an aspiring chef?

Work hard and the rewards will come.  At the start it is about learning, soaking it all in and practising skills to develop your knowledge and build confidence.

The hours are going to be relentless, so don’t fool yourself about this. Being a chef is a lifestyle choice, so passion enthusiasm and a commitment to your craft is hugely important. If you can hold onto those attributes, it will see you through the tougher days and drive you on to be better, achieve more.

Keep the faith that the rewards will come - I’m still learning that the opportunities are endless, it’s exciting! Cooking well is a skill that can take you all over the world and provide the opportunity to meet a whole range of incredible people.

Where’s your favourite place to eat?

For a chef, that might just be one of the hardest questions to answer. It’s a tough one, but I’d probably have to say Mirazur in France. 

As a family, if we were to move anywhere in the world, it would be here. When we had the pleasure of dining at Mirazur, it was just a couple of weeks before it was voted as the number one in the world (by 50 Best Restaurants).

But if we’re talking here in the UK, L’enclume is amazing. I loved their food style, which is heavily dependent of seasonal produce and puts a focus on foraging, to deliver an exceptionally inventive menu.

I wish I had more time to eat out, but as we’ve recently welcomed our first baby, the social scene isn’t quite as active as it once was.

Least favourite ingredient?

Nuts: controversial I know.

I’ve never been much of a fan, and always found them a tricky ingredient to get right. Then about a year ago I developed an allergy, which has just cemented my reluctance to use them.

At Rothay Manor we tend to use different methods to get that similar nutty flavour and consistency in our dishes, without using nuts, such as roasting grains.

Operationally its useful when managing guest allergies and creatively it’s sparked a playful competitiveness amongst the team to experiment with new ideas and ingredients.

Who’s your biggest influence?

There are many incredible chefs and people within the food world I think are impressive and inspirational, but my friend Ben Mounsey is who I’d pick.

We worked together when I was just starting out and he was a brilliant motivation, always pushing me to do better.

It was at the Lawns restaurant at Thornhall Hotel, where I got my first job, that we worked together – he was sous chef when I started, and I subsequently went back to work with him when he was made head chef.

What’s your signature cooking style?

I’d say my cooking style is inspired by Asian influencers, created using British produce. I’m a real advocate for sourcing quality, seasonal produce from trusted suppliers – and we’re very fortunate here in the Lake District to have our pick of some of the UK’s best producers right on our doorstep.

To me it just makes sense to use what we have readily available, in terms of freshness, quality, flavour and the delivery of the overall finished dish, plus it helps to reduce food miles and support other independent businesses in our part of the world, which I also think holds great value.