Here at McQueens Flowers we have long-enjoyed working with both The Berkeley and Marcus
, the Michelin-starred restaurant that resides witihin the hotel to create dynamic weekly floral installations. We’re delighted to announce that we’ve extended our partnership with world-renowned chef, Marcus Wareing and his eponymous restaurant to launch an exclusive menu during RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019. The union came about through McQueens sharing news of our Chelsea Flower Show installations carrying a strong bee conservation message and subsequently discovering Marcus is, in fact, a keen beekeeper himself at his home in Kent. The result is a delectable five-course menu, inspired by the perfect pollinators and even featuring the honey from Marcus’ own beehives! It promises to be an unmissable dining experience.
Between running three acclaimed restaurants, filming for the new series of MasterChef: The Professionals and writing a new cookbook (not to mention beekeeping!) we were lucky enough to sit down with Marcus to delve into the fascinating development of this exquisite menu.
Hi there Marcus - McQueens Flowers are very excited to debut the collaborative RHS Chelsea Flower Show menu. We understand your interest was sparked by the bee conservation message within our installations - have you long been fascinated by honeybees?
My interest in the honeybee is actually, relatively new. In 2017 I bought a house in Sussex with a kitchen garden and orchard; Melfort farm. It also happened to have fully functioning beehives that were in great condition. The first batch of honey was collected just after we moved in, and it was delicious. Having lived in London for so long, I was totally sold on the property partly due to the kitchen garden. I was really excited about the idea of being able to use my own seasonal produce, which includes honey. It is fascinating to see the structure of a hive and how it works, and how honey is created. Not only that, I am now even more aware of how the bees play such a significant role in the growth and development of the entire gardens. They are fundamental to our ecosystem and it is incredible to watch them in action. Also, there's no denying that it's pretty special to be able to have your very own honey.
The menu is a glorious tribute to the honeybee, can you guide us through the process of its development and how the dishes evolve from an idea to final execution?
I had this idea of wanting to try and recreate the experience of being in the country, surrounded by all these amazing sights, scents and tastes. Spring is a pretty magical time of the year in any garden and this was crucial for me in terms of a menu that almost transports you to the Sussex countryside. So I worked closely with my kitchen team to get them all thinking about how we could bring this alive, using great spring produce and a few key ingredient. Not only does the menu contain the honey from my property, we also use wild herbs and flowers, to invoke the feeling of being in a country garden on a beautiful spring day - the sights, the scents and the tastes.
There are five evocative courses - is there one you’re particularly excited about?
I'm excited for everyone to experience the dessert; the Earl Grey tea cream. It's based on a dish I made many years ago on Great British Menu, which I served back then with Eccles cakes. We have redeveloped it to a new level, and also added the Melfort honey to the dish. So the floral, yet slightly savoury tones of the Earl Grey tea are balanced with, the sharpness of the whiskey and the sweetness of the honey. It is delicious.
As flower enthusiasts, we’d love to know - do you have a favourite floral ingredient?
From the menu, for the opening course, you can see we've cured the salmon with lavender. Cooking with lavender takes a bit of skill - have to be so careful not to use too much as it can be too overpowering - a little goes a long way. The smell is absolutely incredible and if you get the balance right, it can really elevate a dish. I look at it as a seasoning, like salt, rather than an ingredient.
For diners who haven’t had the pleasure of visiting Marcus - how would you describe the dining experience?
It's exactly that - an experience, not just somewhere to have a bite to eat. I'm surrounded by an incredible team who strive to make sure our guests have an experience to remember - from the ingredients, to the thought and creativity that go into making a delicious dish, to the sourcing of the wines on our wine list and the hospitality you are met with from the minute you step through the door. Like most things in life, it's a fine balance of lots of important elements that come together to create something special.You are an extremely busy person! From running kitchens to filming for TV shows like Masterchef: The Professionals - what new projects are you looking forward to next?
I've just headed back to the studio to begin filming another series of MasterChef: The Professionals and looking forward to another great year of judging some fantastic talent. I also have a new book in Autumn of this year - it's been my favourite book to write so far and I can't wait to share it. I'm also very much looking forward to heading to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show to see the incredible McQueens Flowers installation. I'm always in awe of the stunning installations McQueens create weekly at both Marcus and the Berkeley Hotel, so I can't wait to see it at the Flower Show.Book the ultimate RHS Chelsea Flower Show dining experience here.
McQueens Flowers and Marcus are very proud to be supporting The Britsh Beekeeping Association
. Diners at Marcus can support the fantastic charity by adding an optional £1 to their bill.
Stay up to date with tour RHS Chelsea Flower show story by following us on Instagram
- and via our hashtag #McQueensBees