Nick Holt – Dorset Fine Dining

nick holt photo

Dorset based chef Nick started cooking more than twenty years ago. After leaving school he took a three year Advanced Cookery Diploma at Thanet Technical College in Broadstairs. During his time at the college he worked at Buckingham Palace at several functions and also had a part-time job at Wallets Court Country House Hotel, Kent. Here he learned invaluable classical French cooking techniques as the chef owner, Chris Oakley, was the first British chef to gain a Michelin Star under the Roux Brothers at Le Poulbot. This is where his passion for cooking really took off. He also spent some time at a catering college in Rheims, France.

After finishing college Nick travelled to London to work at the Hilton on Park Lane and then returned to Wallets Court in Kent, gradually working his way up to the position of Head Chef. Here he helped to gain 3AA Rosettes along with Chris Oakley. He stayed for several years until he decided to widen his experience by travelling to Ireland where he worked in several quality restaurants learning new techniques and gaining more knowledge.

On his return to England he joined an agency for a year working in some excellent hotels such as the Grayshott Spa Hotel, where he learnt about dietary requirements and cooking dishes with little or no fat, but still getting great and unusual flavours on board. He also spent time at the Cliveden Country House Hotel and Spa and The Selsdon Park Hotel. He gained great confidence in his abilities as a chef through this agency work and feels it really helped to push him forward. His last job with the agency was as Head Chef at The Clanfield Tavern, a real food destination gastro pub just outside Oxford.This was really the first time he had run a kitchen without any back up. He realised this was what all his training had been for and thoroughly enjoyed it, so when he was offered a full time position there he grabbed it with both hands. He stayed for two years before moving back down to Kent and accepting the Head Chef position at a new boutique hotel in the centre of Canterbury called Fusion. This was situated in a listed building. The interior however was far from ancient, being lavishly decorated throughout including waterfalls over a glass cinema screen, illuminated bar and designer furniture – no expense was spared. It was here he was to meet his wife to be, Victoria.

After adding a daughter to their family they decided to move to the Jurassic Coast and settled near Sherborne where Nick accepted the position of Head Chef at The Grange Country House Hotel, Oborne. He gained 2 AA Rosettes within a year and has held this accolade now for four years. This position has given him the freedom to work with local suppliers, building up great relationships. He has complete control of menus and works with the seasons. Menus change on a regular basis and daily specials are introduced to help develop the next menu.

Working with producers in the area he has been able to develop assorted meat terrines for Capreolus Fine Foods and sell them in such places as Selfridges and The National Gallery. He has also developed chutneys for a local company called Pinks. He is now the sole caterer for Symondsbury Estates and caters for all their clients who wish to have a meal cooked by a private chef. This is a job he loves and is a complete change from running the kitchen at the hotel.

“This has all been a challenge and I really love to push myself” says Nick. This is nothing, however, compared to his latest venture. He has now started his own bespoke outside catering company, Dorset Fine Dining, which he runs alongside his full time job! He has developed a website with the help of a fantastic web designer, and offers catering for all occasions; whether it be a wedding, bbq, dinner party or canapés and verrines on the lawn in the summer.

To finish we have a quote from an old employer “Nick leaves no stone unturned in his search for perfection”.