Patricio Filipe: The Bella’s Head Chef Talks Flavour and Foraging

We’re delighted to introduce Patricio Filipe, the Bella’s Head Chef who joined us this spring.  If you’ve joined us for lunch or dinner of late, you’ll have seen some big changes on our menus – colourful dishes, bold flavours and lots of local ingredients in our dishes.  This is all down to Patricio and the new philosophy that he’s brought to the kitchen here, which revolves around creating approachable dishes using fresh local ingredients and with a big focus on vegetables.  Patricio’s been out foraging the hedgerows of St Martins for inspiration and has installed a cold-smoker, and we’re excited to share his summer menu with you all, and to see what he has planned for the future.

To find out a little more about Patricio, his style of cooking and his inspirations, we caught him in between services for a quick chat.

I’m pretty much a self-taught chef.  I’ve always had a passion for food since I was a little boy, so being a chef is my dream job. To be fair I don't even know where my passion for food first came from or what triggered it, but the passion I have now for foraging, smoking and using local ingredients all came from my hard work at Hix; I learnt a lot about seasonality, provenance, foraging and flavour there and I’ve been foraging and home-smoking ever since. It’s amazing what nature can give you on your doorstep, and there are all of these unknown or almost forgotten flavours that you can get from foraging your own ingredients.

I worked for Mark Hix for almost four years, starting at Hix Selfridges and then moving to Hix Oyster & Chop house in Farringdon.  Alice House, in Queens Park, was one of my favourite places to work during my time in London - the venue was great and I fell in love with it from my first day and was there for over 3 years. I’ve worked for Jamie Oliver too, at Barbecoa St Pauls.

I’d say that my style of cooking is very ''honest'' if that's such a thing.  It’s all about respecting the ingredients and combining them in unexpected ways with the aim of bringing out bold flavours, foraging of course and working with the seasons because that’s the way you get the best flavours out of your ingredients.

We came back to Guernsey as a family, as this was the place where I met my wife and we have always loved this little rock. In the back of my mind I have always known that being a chef in Guernsey is a privilege. It’s amazing the amount of restaurants that we have here in such a small island. Obviously we have amazing produce over here, from the fresh fish, scallops, lobsters and crabs in our local waters to the vegetables and fruit that are grown or available here.  And, in terms of foraging, everything is literally on my doorstep!

The local ingredients that stand out to me here are the scallops, crab, and the lovely strawberries packed with flavour.  I also love the golden bars of rich butter unique to Guernsey and the Guernsey cows.

Since arriving at The Bella Luce I’ve installed a cold-smoker outside the kitchen’s back door.  At the moment we are only smoking our own salmon, but in time I want to start doing things like smoked salt and smoked butter.  I do my own smoking here because this way I can ''tune” the flavours if that makes sense, by adapting the type and amount of wood chips and the duration of the smoking - its almost like a personalised flavour. 

I draw inspiration from so many things.  When I look at ingredients they connect in my brain almost like a puzzle; I do like to bring unexpected combinations and flavours together, and colours too. It’s about creating a balance between those elements.

When creating The Bella’s menu I had in mind Luke’s passion for foraging, which I share too, and of using local ingredients as much as possible.  I also wanted to create a menu that is really approachable, and that appealed to locals as well as visitors - offering less complicated dishes that taste amazing.

I like all of the dishes on the new menu and don't really have a favourite!  If I was pushed though, I really like the vegetarian dishes simply for the fact that they’re very different to the more common vegetarian options that you’ll find on most menus.

To experience Patricio's dishes for yourself, stop by the Bella sometime for lunch or dinner.  You can make a reservation by calling +44 (0)1481 238764.

Written by:

Bella Luce