Taste the difference

The George and Dragon in Speldhurst has got a new chef at the helm and his delicious food is certainly proving to be popular with the historic pub’s customers. But given Rod Grossman has worked in the kitchens of prestigious restaurants such as Moro in London, The George in Rye and most latterly at The Griffin in Fletching, it’s no surprise. We discover the recipe for his ongoing success and what he loves about being part of the G&D team…

So Rod, let’s start by you telling us why you wanted to work at the George and Dragon?

The George and Dragon (G&D) has a special place in my heart as I worked here about 15 years ago and really enjoyed my time at the pub. The food is seasonal and always made using local produce with great quality ingredients. That facilitates chefs like myself to create some really exciting dishes.

What kind of changes did you make to the existing menu and why?

I kept some old favourites on there but also introduced some delicious modern dishes that I love to cook.

What do you enjoy most about working at this beautiful and historic pub?

The G&D is a pub with so much character and such a beautiful building. The food is fresh and bold. Unlike many of the chain pubs, we have great access to local suppliers with quality produce delivered daily. Most importantly I have the freedom to create fantastic dishes for our customers who come from near and far to enjoy.

Can you tell us what you want to reflect as your culinary inspiration there?

I like to create exciting dishes using very local independent suppliers that reflect the season and will be appreciated by our customers. Ideally I want to make the G&D the place to go for the best pub food around.

Since you started, have any of your dishes proved to be more popular?

A few of them have actually! The gambas crostini, Devonshire crab linguine, which are two of my personal favourites, are going down well as is the chargrilled lamb kofta and locally foraged wild garlic soup.

What would your signature dishes be?

That’s a tricky question as I have so many! I personally love cooking a traditional paella but when dining at the G&D it just has to be the gambas to start followed by a great Sunday roast with all the trimmings – all served with a gravy that you just want to drink!

How often do you update the menu?

The menu is super seasonal so I change as soon great ingredients come available. I do however still keep classic pub dishes, such as a great pie and local fish dishes, on the menu so we have something for everyone.

Can you tell us about some of the local suppliers you use and why?

I would dare to say that 85% is local. Our free-range eggs come from Fairview farm. Our dairy products and ice cream are from Downview dairy farm. Our bread is sourced from a great artisan bakery in Sussex – but we do make our own focaccia in-house. Our fish comes from PH fish in Hastings and our meat is all British and supplied by a family-run Butcher in Sussex. Our veg arrives daily from TH Brown and our game products are all sourced from Eridge.

Feel free to tell us a little bit about your culinary CV…

I cut my teeth in London in a restaurant called Moro on Exmouth Market, where I learned a great deal and cooked from scratch. I also worked at The George in Rye which gave me the experience of the hotel industry including catering for large weddings. Then I had a little adventure on my own with a restaurant in Tunbridge Wells which was a Spanish tapas bar serving authentic tapas and a great Spanish atmosphere. Latterly I was head chef at The Griffin in Fletching near Uckfield for over six years.

And now can you reveal which chefs inspire you and why?

I’ve got to mention Sam & Sam Clark from Moro as they were the ones who gave me the opportunity to discover my love for cooking. They’ve been going in Exmouth Market for over 25 years with a Mediterranean-influenced menu that is truly amazing. I have also been inspired by the many chefs I’ve been lucky enough to work with over the years taking certain ideas and techniques from all of them.

If you had to sum up the food you are currently creating for the G&D in three words what would they be?

Ooh, can I say in six? If so they would be: “Field to fork” and “Bold delicious culinary”


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