Meet our Gordon Ramsay trained Head Chef – an interview with Tristan Prudden

The Borrowdale Hotel has been standing firmly at the foot of Shepards Crag since 1866. As a prominent character in the Borrowdale valley, the hotel is known for its historic and traditional personality that keeps guests coming year after year. Undergoing a recent renovation in 2023, the hotel had a revitalising makeover which brought life back into the building, allowing for a beautifully modern interior whilst still retaining that old historic charm through the preserving presence of the old grandmother clock, serving bells and the beloved wine cellar.

So, what was missing?

Whilst dining at the Borrowdale Hotel has always been a spectacular experience, something (or someone) was needed to give the kitchen an exciting, new update. Meet Tristan Prudden, our new Head Chef who kindly sat down with us for an interview…

1. When did your passion for cooking begin?

My passion began when I was around 4 or 5 years old, I found that I loved to help with the cooking at home. Moving into my teenage years (aged 13), I managed to acquire a role as Kitchen Porter at the Kings Arms in Askrigg. It was in this part time job that I got my first real experience in the catering industry, fueling my hunger to develop a career as a chef. A year later, I was entrusted with starting to prepare starters and vegetables; I progressively gained more and more responsibility whilst I worked in this kitchen environment throughout my A-levels.

2. Did you study cooking? If so, where?

The original plan was to go to university to study motorsport design, but my passion for food far surpassed this dream. Once I completed my A-level studies, I took the leap…whilst my peers filled out applications for various universities around the country, I applied for the renowned Tante Marie Culinary Academy. I was awarded a scholarship and began my studies at the Woking-based culinary school where I went on to achieve the prestigious Cordon Bleu Diploma.

3. Please list noteworthy places where you have worked

  • Devonshire Arms on the Bolton Abbey Estate.
  • The Grantham Arms.
  • The Garden Rooms at Tennants.
  • Black Horse Inn at Kirkby Fleeton.
  • Constable Burton Hall.

4. Have you worked beneath any famous chefs?

During my time at the Tante Marie Culinary Academy, I had the incredible opportunity to work under the teaching of the world-class chef, Gordon Ramsay. As a part-owner of the school, Ramsay not only lent his prestigious name but also actively participated in teaching some of the classes himself. Under his guidance, I gained invaluable insights into culinary art, learning not only technical skills but also the importance of discipline, creativity, and attention to detail in the kitchen. Working alongside Gordon Ramsay was an experience like no other. His passion for food was contagious, and his commitment to perfection was evident in every dish he prepared and every lesson he taught.

5. What awards have you won or been nominate for?

  • Finalist for ‘Game Chef of the Year’ award in 2016.
  • Eat Game Awards 2018: ‘Champion of Champions’ and then ‘Winner of Winners’.
  • My work has been awarded AA Rosettes whilst working in previous establishments.

6. Do you have any specialty dishes?

My culinary journey has led me to specialise in the fascinating genre of game cuisine. While I enjoy experimenting with various ingredients and cooking styles, it’s the unique flavours and textures of game meats that captivate my palate and inspire my creativity. One of my signature creations is KFP (Kentucky Fried Partridge), a playful twist on the classic fried chicken dish. Another standout dish in my repertoire is BBQ squirrel, a hearty and comforting option that leaves customers wanting more. While my passion for cooking extends to all types of cuisine, it’s the world of game that holds a special place in my heart.

7. What attracted you to the Lake District?

As previously mentioned, I have a deep passion for game and the Lake District has an abundance of it! Whilst I have honed my skills in kitchens throughout North Yorkshire, I felt a strong pull to take on a new challenge. The Lake District offers the perfect landscape to further indulge my love for game cooking, providing a fresh environment and new experiences – not too far from home!

8. What culinary trends interest you most?

Modern food trends are constantly changing; I find these fascinating and try to stay engaged and involved as much as I can. One trend that has particularly taken my interest is sustainability in cooking. In today’s world, environmental consciousness is increasingly at the forefront of consumer concerns. I’m passionate about exploring modern styles of planting and agriculture, these are being made increasingly more sustainable by the day.

Another trend I am interested in is foraging. Living where we do, I can embrace the act of foraging ingredients, so that they can be infused into my dishes. I find that this is a rewarding process to see the ingredients in their raw natural form before being transformed into a delicious dish.

One unusual ingredient I like to use is seaweed, this is a great seasoning and has much to offer as it is jam-packed with nutrients. Seaweed offers many health benefits unlike salt, such as supporting lower blood pressures.

9. What is one dish you couldn't live without?

It has to be pasta! This simple ingredient is a saving grace for busy chefs like me, having quick and easy dishes is essential for maintaining mental and physical wellbeing in the whirlwind of a professional kitchen. I like to try different tasty pasta dishes such as hearty pasta bakes and one of my go-tos is the timeless spaghetti and meatballs.

But, from an avid foodie’s perspective, my favourite dish would have to be Wellington – either beef or venison, both are extremely tasty.

10. What is your proudest professional achievement?

Winning the ‘Champion of Champions’ award at the 2018 Eat Game Awards was undeniably one of the proudest moments of my culinary journey. It was a moment of validation – a recognition of the dedication, passion, and relentless pursuit of excellence that has been the driving force behind my career.

11. What chefs inspire(d) you the most?

My inspiration comes mainly from Gordon Ramsay as I grew up watching him on TV. This is what convinced me to apply for his cookery school in the first place. The opportunity to learn from the best, to immerse myself in the world of professional cooking, and to hone my skills under the guidance of an icon was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. It was a great honour to have the opportunity to work in such close quarters with him.

12. What's your very first memory of food?

 That would be baking cakes with my Mum…it’s a very fond memory that has stayed with me for a long time. My parents are my biggest supporters and say they were never surprised by the route I have taken due to my curiosity and eagerness in the kitchen that seemed to come naturally to me in my earliest years.

13. What do you do to relax?

I don’t necessarily like to relax as such, I like to keep my mind active, and I won’t often sit around watching TV. Instead, I enjoy keeping myself busy by building things with Lego. I also have a keen interest in photography and often use dishes I have created as inspiration. I own a drone which I take out regularly, snapping picturesque shots from above. Watching horse racing is another enthusiastic hobby I have developed; I even own shares in some racehorses.

14. Which 3 guests would you invite to a dinner party (dead or alive)?

  1. My Mum
  2. Bobby Robson (I am Ipswich Town’s top supporter and I try to attend as many away games as possible).
  3. Gordon Ramsay

15. Top 3 favourite restaurants?

  1. Pétrus by Gordon Ramsay (London)
  2. Black Swan at Oldstead.
  3. Wensleydale Heifer.

16. Any other noteworthy anecdotes or information?

 I have held the title of head chef or executive chef since the age of 21.

To any aspiring chefs, I would advise you not to try and please everyone, find what you are passionate about and run with it. You should work hard and listen to others when they might be giving you pointers or advice.

I have big plans for the Borrowdale Hotel and would love nothing more than to turn it into a foodie destination that people will travel from all over to experience! With dedication, creativity, and a relentless pursuit of excellence, I am confident that we can turn this dream into a reality, putting the Borrowdale Hotel on the map as a must-visit destination for food enthusiasts everywhere.