Overlooking one of the Isle of Thanet’s hidden gems, Shepherd Neame’s Minnis Bay Bar and Brasserie is the perfect place to relax after a seaside stroll. Boasting stunning views over the golden sands of Minnis Bay, a Blue Flag quality beach, it offers fantastic food, friendly service and an extensive drinks list.
We caught up with Head Chef Alex Eager, and Sous Chef Danny Wilkinson, who have recently joined the team at the busy coastal spot, to find out more about them.
Why did you join the team at the Minnis Bay Bar and Brasserie?
Alex: I used to work at the Minnis Bay 12 years ago – it was my very first job while I was also at Thanet College. It was a great experience and the food we created was always of a really high standard, so when I saw this job I jumped at the opportunity. It felt like I’d come full circle. I have good memories of working here.
Danny: I had spent the last five years working for the East Anglian Pub Company, and was at one of its pubs, The Bellhouse in Southend, when Shepherd Neame took it over in July last year. As a result, I became aware of the vacancy at their Minnis Bay site and moved back to Kent – I live in Ramsgate now – as this is my home county.
What qualifications are needed for your role?
Alex: I was at catering college while I was working here before, but after leaving and working at Raindell’s in Broadstairs for two years, I went back to college and completed my Level 3 qualification as I wanted to finish the job.
Danny: I studied my Level 1 qualification at Canterbury College, but I’m more of a hands-on chef and prefer to be in the kitchen. I’ve been in the business a lot of years now and worked in a lot of kitchens, so I have a lot of practical experience and also understand how the front of house and back of house teams work which is crucial in my role.
How have you found working with Shepherd Neame?
Alex: I like working for a company which sets high standards and offers real structure, though it was the location really that attracted me back to work here! It’s great to get experience working for such a well-known and successful company as Shepherd Neame, as my long-term goal is to run my own restaurant one day.
How are you enjoying your new role?
Alex: I already know how busy summers are going to be here so I’m prepared! It is a scary prospect but exciting at the same time. It can get very busy, but I like being busy. I don’t like standing idle! I also enjoy the interaction with my chefs – having a good team means it is a lot easier to create good food. I did leave hospitality for a two-year period, but I realised I missed the buzz of it all.
Danny: I really enjoy it. The Minnis Bay Bar and Brasserie is a great site and I’m lucky to work with a fantastic team. I have been in the business a long time, and I did leave and then come back when I had my children – me and Alex have both had breaks and come back to it, as we realised we are passionate about what we do.
How is it working together?
Alex: It is nice to have someone around the kitchen that I can really rely on. He’ll very much get on with it as he has so much experience, and that gives me more time to deal with all the many aspects of my role, which is great as it is a such a busy site. I’m not a ‘shouty’ Head Chef, I don’t think that’s how you get the best out of people, and it’s certainly not how I like to do things!
Danny: It’s great. We share the same work ethic, both striving to create a really high standard of food, and I’m glad Alex likes doing all the other stuff too, as, although I have been a Head Chef in the past, it’s all the other things like the paperwork which go with that role, that I don’t like!
Tell us your signature dish, if you have one…
Alex: My favourite chef is Raymond Blanc – I especially like making puddings, which was what I specialised in while taking my Level 3. I would make a salted caramel torte with brandy snaps and butterscotch.
Danny: I don’t have a speciality, I enjoy all of it; but I do like creating a dish involving a whole fish on the plate, something like Sesame Cod Loin.
The Minnis Bay Bar and Brasserie can be found at The Parade, Birchington, CT7 9QP, telephone 01843 841844. Its delicious menu offers classic British cuisine with a contemporary twist, and as might be expected from its unique coastal location, seafood is a speciality. All dishes are cooked onsite, using locally sourced, seasonal produce where possible, with regular Chef’s Specials on the menu.
The venue is open from 9am to 9pm Mondays to Thursdays and on Sundays, with food available from noon to 8pm, and from 9am to 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays, with food on offer from noon to 9pm. For more details go to www.theminnis.co.uk For more information about joining Shepherd Neame’s food team, visit www.shepherdneame.co.uk/careers