Chef Of The Month November 2016: Ben Mounsey

Ben Mounsey,
Thornton Hall - Lawns Restaurant

I started working as a kitchen porter at 15 like most chefs do. Coming from a home where cooking fresh dishes every day was common it was not long until I started helping on the different sections in the small Italian restaurant where I was working. During this time I was considering my options after school and it was not long until I had stopped washing dishes and was working larder, pizzas and pastry whilst applying to go and study culinary arts management at Birmingham University.

I eventually left the Wirral and moved to Birmingham to study, during my 5 years there obtaining my degree I worked for the Hotel du Vin group working in 4 small boutique 2 to 3 rosette kitchens within Oxford, Harrogate, Birmingham and Henley on Thames.

I graduated from university and went travelling for a year throughout Asia, Australasia and South America. This gave me a brief respite from the industry and the pressure of completing my degree; it also allowed me to witness first hand different cultures, eating habits, ingredients and styles of cooking.

On returning home to the Wirral I started working at Thornton Hall Hotel, I started as demi chef de partie but in two years worked my way up to junior sous helping gain 3 AA rosettes.

On leaving Thornton Hall I moved to Singapore to work at Restaurant Andres, a small thirty cover white house with a restaurant on two floors in china town. It was ranked 38th best restaurant in the world and has recently been awarded 2 Michelin stars. I learnt so much about dish composition, commodities and how to orchestrate a unique dining experience. My only regret is that I did not stay working at the restaurant longer.

I returned and began a job at 1 Michelin starred Restaurant Fraiche under the tutelage of Marc Wilkinson. I stayed there for 2 and a half years helping to achieve number 1 in The Times restaurant of the year list and a 4thAA rosette. I worked closely with Marc completing specialist menu evenings and working alongside guest chefs.

I have now returned to Thornton Hall as Head Chef of the 3 rosette Lawns Restaurant, and it is here where I work on creating unique seasonal dishes that awaken the senses and stick in the memory. We work tirelessly on creating a dining experience not just through our tasting and gourmet menus but also a la carte.

We use the best ingredients available without compromise and strive to scrutinise every element of every dish to create something truly special. 

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Rabbit Loin & Legs

1 Rabbit

250g Smoked Pancetta

2 Carrots

2 Leeks

2 Onions

2 Cloves of garlic

2 Celery Sticks

20 Button mushrooms

6 banana shallot

Spring of thyme, rosemary, sage and marjoram

Meat glue powder

1l Water

100g Salt

25 Nettle leaves


  •        Remove legs and loins from rabbit.
  •         Roast of the rest of the rabbit body with the chopped veg excluding the mushrooms and shallot at 190 degrees for 45 minutes.
  •         Place roasted rabbit and veg into a pan and cover with cold water and bring to the boil.
  •         Leave this stock to simmer for 3 hours and then pass.
  •         In a pan brown off the sliced mushrooms and shallot and when dark brown deglaze the pan with half a bottle of port and one bottle of red wine and reduce until mushrooms, shallot and alcohol are a sticky mixture in the pan.
  •        Pour rabbit stock over this and reduce down until a light gravy consistency.
  •         Brine the loins and legs in the water and salt mixture. The loins get one hour and the legs 4.
  •         Remove the loins, wash off with cold water for 15 minutes and pat dry.
  •         Glue two loins together with the thinnest part of the loin meeting the thickest part creating an even cylinder.
  •         Finely slice the pancetta into strips and roll the lions within that and then in cling film like a ballantine.
  •         Wash off the legs the same as the loin and pat dry.
  •         Vacuum seal the legs in goose fat and garlic and cook in a water bath for 12 hours at 75 degrees.
  •         Remove the legs and pick the meat of the bones in large pieces.
  •        Mix the leg meat with chopped lemon thyme rabbit sauce and dust lightly with meat glue.
  •         Roll the meat in a cylinder until it is just under the thickness of the loins and leave to set.
  •         Pick and wash the nettle leave s and blanch in vegetable stock butter and salt.
  •         Once blanched refresh in ice water.
  •         Lay the nettle onto cloth to dry and the lay flat overlapping each other slightly.
  •         Light your leg meat onto the nettles and roll up within the nettle and the cling film like a ballantine.
  •       Vacuum seal the legs and the loin separate.
  •         For service the loin will get 10 minutes at 56 degrees and the leg can be left within the bath until plating.
  •         Once bathed the loin can be pan fried to crisp up the pancetta.

Chervil Oil

2x Bunches of chervil.

1x Pinch of Salt.

1x tblsp of glycerine.

250ml of Olive oil.


  •        Pick down herbs.
  •         Blitz in Thermomix at number 6 at 65 degrees for 20 minutes.
  •         Stop half way through to blitz on full power for 2 minutes.
  •         Hang in muslin and chill.


Black Garlic Emulsion

2x yolks

200ml Veg Oil

12g Black Garlic.

1tblsp water.


  •          Whisk egg yolks and soy.
  •        Slowly add oil and let down with water.
  •       Store in a bottle for 1 week.


Baby Corn

3 Baby corn


Veg stock

Salt Pepper


  •      Vacuum seal baby corn all ingredients and steam until cooked for around 6 minutes.
  •        Refresh in ice water and remove from bag retaining corn in liquor.
  •       For service blowtorch the corn and cut in half.


Miso Salsify

2 peeled salsify sticks

15g Miso

50g Veg stock


  •       Vacuum seal all ingredients and steam for 12 minutes.
  •      Refresh and retain in liquor.
  •       For service brown salsify in a hot pan deglazing the pan at completion with salsify liquor to create a glaze.


Tinned Corn Puree

I tin of cooked corn.



  •   Drain corn and blitz in food processor for 15 minutes
  •         Pass and season.


Nettle puree

1kg Nettles

Quarter of a nutmeg

250g baby spinach.


  •         Blanch the picked and washed nettles until really soft some you can mash them between your fingers.
  •    Pass the nettle from the water and refresh.
  •         Keep the water used for blanching and reincorporate that into the nettle whilst blitzing in food processor.
  •       Whilst blitzing also add nutmeg and picked raw baby spinach for colour and flavour.
  •         Season and pass puree.


Salsify Crisp.

1 Large peeled salsify


  •         Use a peeler and rotate salsify around whilst peeling thin strips of the flesh off.
  •         Fry salsify strips at 160 degrees until oil stops bubbling and the salsify it crisp.
  •         Season and drain onto towel.