Business events in conference venues can be such dull affairs, so it’s no wonder that business leaders are looking for new ways to inspire their team and seek an alternative training venue or away day experience. One such innovative experience is pairing Michelin star food with a beautiful seaside venue to stimulate minds and focus.
The Carlton Hotel in North Devon is doing just this with its new Michelin business package offering which includes a fine dining evening with Thomas Carr at The Olive Room, the area’s only Michelin starred restaurant (see his exclusive interview below).
The author Bill Marsano, once wrote that, “The British Empire was created as a by-product of generations of desperate Englishmen roaming the world in search of a decent meal.”This was particularly true of British seaside towns which for many years were typified by menus that were high in sugar and fat and low in flavour and substance.
That was then, but things have changed dramatically in recent years. Now the British coast is speckled with small towns where culinary pearls are waiting to be discovered. This is particularly true for Ilfracombe, one of the most picturesque harbour towns on the West Country’s Atlantic coast and home to one of Devon’s most pleasant conference venues for hosting business events.
Business Events With a Difference
The Carlton is pushing the envelope with three unique two day businesspackages that combine business class luxury accommodation with top of the range training venue facilities (from on site meeting and seminar rooms to gym and treatments). The Carlton is one of the more exclusive Devon conference venues for business events – from team meetings and business workshops to training & development courses.
The Carlton Hotel’sMichelin Package, centred in Ilfracombe, sits neatly into this programme, offering a truly unique shared experience for office teams seeking an alternative training venue in North Devon.
For a restaurant, a Michelin star is the pinnacle of success and one that cannot be bought. The go-to guide for food quality began life in 1900 and was soon blazing a trail for the finest food to be found on its travels. The secretive nature of the world of the Michelin inspector was revealed to the New Yorker Magazine in 2009, which noted that ‘inspectors themselves are advised not to disclose their line of work, even to their parents’.
An interview with Michelin Star Chef, Thomas Carr
This is what Michelin Guide inspectors say about Thomas Carr at The Olive Room; “A simple, homely restaurant beneath a B&B, run by an experienced local chef who trained under Nathan Outlaw. Ultra-fresh seafood is the focus, with dishes only confirmed once the day boat deliveries come in. Cooking is skilled.”
So what can Carlton Hotel guests expect from the fine dining aspect of Michelin Package? We caught up with Thomas Carr to get his views on Ilfracombe, what makes the Olive Room so special and where his culinary inspiration comes from.
What is special about Ilfracombe as a place?
Well you only need to have a look around to see. You step out the front of the restaurant and you have a lovely view down Fore Street to the sea. It’s really at its best when the sun’s shining and everyone’s just enjoying a walk along the seafront. We’re also a special place for food! We’re the only place in Devon to have a Michelin Star and a Michelin Bib Gourmand. We’re punching above our weight for such a small town, but it’s brilliant.It’s not just about the Michelin level dining though. We also have the best chippies, fantastic local artisan producers and lots of quality restaurants.It’s a foodie haven.
What is special about the Olive Room fine dining experience?
I think for us, it’s always about making the food the star of the show. Our dining room is cosy and the service is relaxed. Our customers often comment on how they love how unpretentious the experience is. People expect a Michelin Starred restaurant to be a high class affair, but when we have such amazing ingredients to work with, we want to make sure they don’t get lost in an in-your-face Front of House service; we just want our guests to relax and enjoy themselves.
Where does inspiration for the Olive Room menu come from?
I think we are always inspired by the quality of the ingredients we have access too. When a beautiful fish comes into the kitchen we just want to do it justice. We offer chef’s tasting menus (and a la carte midweek), and it’s about keeping the tastes simple, not overloading the dish with unnecessary additional flavours, and showcasing the ingredients. That’s not to say that there aren’t some nice little hidden flavours amongst the dish though. As a chef I’m a bit of a grazer so I tend to pick at different ingredients and every now and then I’ll stumble across a combination of flavours which aren’t typically served together, but I can taste that they could work I’ll start trying to develop a dish from that.
With delegate prices starting at £119* per person per night (for a two night midweek business package stay), the Carlton Hotel in Ilfracombe offers one of the most unique Devon business venues and without doubt one of the most flavoursome! Please emailor telephone (01271 862446) to find out what the Carlton Hotel can bring to your business this year.
*Price based on 20+ delegates.