Explore Leiths Diploma Open House – 5th June 2024


Alumni Stories: Joshua Hunter and Hawthorn

Leiths Diploma graduate Joshua Hunter (@thehunterjoshua) has had a varied career working at such restaurants as Murano, Kitchen W8, and La Trompette and as a private chef for Tom Cruise and the Beckhams. He now runs Joshua Hunter at Holland & Holland shooting grounds and is the chef patron of new restaurant Hawthorn, recently opened on the old Glasshouse restaurant site in Kew. We spoke to Joshua about his latest project.

Congratulations on the opening of Hawthorn. How has the reception been so far?

“It’s all going really well. We’re getting some really good feedback. We’ve got a write-up in the Evening Standard coming today [update: it got four stars]. There’s a lot of the locals who used to eat at the Glasshouse that are coming back so that’s really nice to see. All the staff are really enjoying it too.”

How did it come about?

“I’ve been looking for a site for about two years. I’ve always wanted to own a restaurant and I kind of got to a stage where I thought it was the right time for me. I was initially looking at sites in Notting Hill which were realistically way out of budget then my now business partner Patra [Panas, former Glasshouse manager] messaged me because she knew I was looking for a site. My head chef Sauy Li at Holland & Holland worked at the Glasshouse for seven years and is close friends with Patra so that was the connection there. Nigel [Platts-Martin, former owner of the Glasshouse] had spoken to Patra about taking the lease on the Glasshouse; I think it was something she’d made clear she wanted to do. She was looking for a business partner; I was looking for a site; so all paths converged in a good way.”

How is what you’re doing at Hawthorn different from Holland & Holland?

“We’re still championing British produce wherever possible but the menu is slightly more European. We’re working with the same British farms and suppliers. It’s just nice, even the way we’re wording the menu, to make it more modern European. There are more guests coming for lunch who’ll sit there for the afternoon. I’ve always really liked that about the Chez Bruce-Trompette group, they never used to rush tables. We’re sticking with the fixed price menu structure which I’ve done at Holland & Holland because I’m just a massive fan of it. For me, when you sit down you don’t want to be thinking about the price. You want to be enjoying the company of your fellow diners. We’re looking at eventually doing a du jour menu to try and bolster the weekday lunch trade. I already feel like we’re very competitively priced at £45 for three courses for lunch; we can’t forget that it’s a neighbourhood restaurant.”

You are known for cooking with game. Is game on the menu at Hawthorn?

“Very much so, though we’re just coming to the end of the season. I’ll be having venison coming on very soon but then come the Glorious 12th, absolutely there will be a lot of game. Over the last four years working for Holland & Holland, I’ve built quite a lot of connections within the game industry. I think it’s at quite a crucial point and I really want to be a part of driving it forward. I love game.”

What’s on the menu at Hawthorn?

“I’ve got Cured Orkney scallop and gilthead bream dish which is served in the shell with blood orange and oyster dressing and a herb tempura; that’s one of my signature dishes. We’ve got a lovely veal rump with truffle mash and foraged three cornered leeks. Then we’ve got a lovely monkfish dish basted with chicken skin butter with cime di rapa and hazelnuts. Dessert-wise, we’re staying fairly classical. We’ve got a lovely forced Yorkshire rhubarb soufflé and the prune and Armagnac tart is flying out.”

How does the new restaurant fit in with your work at Holland & Holland?

“Obviously I’m at Hawthorn every single hour of every single day at the moment. It’s been insane but I have a weekly meeting with Sauy Li, head chef at Holland & Holland, and I pop back whenever I can and I’ll still be overseeing everything. At the moment I’m spending a lot of time at Hawthorn while we get it open, then I can give a bit more responsibility to my sous chef to run services. Then eventually I’ll be in a situation where I’m there a day and a half or whatever then here the rest of the time. The beautiful thing about it is that we’re in such a stable position at Holland & Holland, with all the processes that have been put in place over the last four years. I’ve got some brilliant chefs there and Sauy Li is doing a fantastic job. They have been so supportive. This wouldn’t be happening without Holland & Holland.”

It’s a difficult time to open a restaurant. What is your experience?

“It’s challenging. There are always going to be challenges in hospitality, it’s a risky business. If you’re doing it well, you’re looking after your customers and you put in the work, hopefully it will be successful. The challenge is things like utilities; the costs are mounting. We’re just trying to work with a small very good team here; it helps we’re not overstaffing. I got to a point in my career where I thought I’m either going to take a leap and have a go at it or I could look back in five years’ time and say, ‘I wish I’d done it’.”

Hawthorn, 14 Station Parade, Kew, TW9 3PZ.



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