NEW VIDEO: ‘We will only use what is good, when it is good – that’s our philosophy’

The Staff Canteen

Scott Paton is the head chef at Michelin-starred Àclèaf in Boringdon Hall near Plymouth. He champions his team’s ambitious progression when it comes to both the menu and the service required to deliver those dishes to their guests.

Although Scott has achieved the accolades he aspired to when launching the restaurant, he explained that he never had any real intent of being a chef. He got hooked on the atmosphere of the kitchen while washing up aged 16 at the Jack in the Green near Exeter.

“It was a busy, high cover, high quality,” said Scott. “When I was looking at the food going out, I thought it was amazing. As soon as I left school I was in and starting to cook.”

Fast forward to 2016, and with 14 years’ experience under his belt, Scott joined Boringdon Hall looking for a new project and to keep pushing himself. With the support of the Directors his vision of a destination restaurant became what is now, Michelin-starred Àclèaf. 

Scott explained: “As a team we set out small goals we wanted to achieve and as we sit here now, we’ve got four AA Rosettes and a Michelin star.

“Achieving a star has always been a goal, even when I was washing dishes – so to finally get it was a whirlwind. We had worked so hard for it; I really wanted it but you can never expect it.”

He added: “My ambition is progression; I can’t stand still! It’s about constantly being better. I’ve always aimed to exceed guest’s expectations.

“Launching Àclèaf, it was my aim to give guests my experience. The experience I would like to receive myself. When you go to a restaurant you want to feel important, like you are getting an extra level of service – that’s what I wanted to provide to everybody.”

Build your own tasting menu

The former South West Chef of the Year, is keen to keep the restaurant as ‘unpretentious’ as possible and the team look to incorporate a bit of fun where they can. The menu is four courses which Scott said ‘just felt right’ and there are a few surprises included throughout the meal.

The guests choose what they want for each course and as Scott says it’s a ‘build your own tasting menu’.

“You’re not going to find too much starch through the menu. It’s protein driven so your satiating elements will come from natural animal fats.

“In terms of produce I love using Curtis Pitts venison, it’s shot locally from estates in the South West.

Acleaf Restaurant Davon

He added: “Local produce is great but if we need to go further afield, we will. We use Highland Wagyu which is amazing. By using it you get an incredible Japanese breed of cow but using British farming techniques.

“I just love the end product of that. I’m not one for beef to taste like mushrooms or overhung or getting those blue cheese notes. I just want beef to taste like beef. Wagyu is so satiating as well it has fat running through it and you feel like it is clean eating – I love that, we don’t have to do too much to the produce.”

Seasonality is key

Scott says that although seasonality is core to the menu, if an ingredient is still at its best slightly outside of the normal season, he will still use it.

“I used to think I enjoyed Spring because of the colour you can bring in but as I’ve got a bit older, I’ve realised that the next season is always my favourite. I guess that comes with always being progressive so now I’m looking forward to January and what that will bring us.

“We will be dictated to by the produce – the seasons change so much now. We’re sitting here in October in the sunshine, that’s really going to mess with crops and produce.

“We will only use what is good, when it is good – that’s our philosophy.”

Scott and the team have had venison on the menu since August but he explained they’ve rolled the garnish through to a more autumnal style with a much richer sauce which is finished with venison blood.

“It gives it a real earthiness and it’s much more robust for this time of year. Before it was very light. Also, on pastry we’ve just taken off our peach melba, I’ve always love peach melba so it makes its way back every year. It’s elongated for as long as we can, as long as we are getting good peaches it stays on. We’ve just rolled that off and it has been swapped over to our walnut dish.”

He added: “I would like to think we’ve found our style and if you put a plate of Àclèaf food down, people in the industry and guests would at least think ‘that looks like or reminds me of’ an Àclèaf dish. I think we do have that level of identity.”

Future accolades

Looking forward Scott says he’d be lying if he didn’t say he wanted five AA Rosettes and two Michelin stars but he is under no illusion of how much work is required and the ‘hoops you have to jump through’ to get there.

“Operating at this level requires constant drive,” said Scott. “You really can’t afford to take your foot off the gas because if you do, everything can derail vey quickly.

“You have to be consistent and constantly annoying,” he laughed. “But I know that my team appreciate it and they are just as progressive, ambitious and relentless as I am.”


In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall  – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 16 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 560,000 followers across Facebook, X, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 4th December 2023

NEW VIDEO: ‘We will only use what is good, when it is good – that’s our philosophy’