A Friday Chat With The HAC’s Executive Chef, Mark Constable27 January 2022
Having joined Searcys in October 2021, Mark Constable has quickly found his feet as Executive Chef at the Honourable Artillery Company in the heart of the City. Mark runs the food operation on a day-to-day basis, overseeing everything from intimate dinners to huge outside events in The HAC’s 5-acre garden. For him, striking the balance between culinary classics (think prawn cocktail, beef Wellington, and Spotted Dick) while innovating with new and creative techniques is what makes the role so rewarding.
Hi Mark! Tell us a bit about yourself – how did you start out in this industry?
I started washing dishes in the local pub at 13 loved it, so it all went from there really. I have worked all over the country – in London, Windermere in Cumbria, Taunton in Somerset, Marlow in Buckinghamshire. I’ve also had the opportunity over the years to work in a lot of different environments: country house hotels, football stadiums, even a private members’ sports club.
Tell us your three favourite things about the venue you work at?
I love the ceremonial side of the venue, the traditions and customs that it represents. I like the formal and regimented side of the business at the HAC, with that mix of a more commercial side that wants to encourage the more modern way of doing things. It’s a real contrast, modern and traditional, and it makes it a fascinating place to work.
What is your favourite part of the day and why?
I love the mornings, the earlier the better! I like the anticipation of what the day is going to bring, the fresh start you have each day, and it’s the productive time.
What are your favourite events at The HAC?
I do love doing the full mess dinners here at The HAC. They’re full of history and ceremonial occasions. The uniforms, music and the atmosphere are great!
Tell us a little about your guests at The HAC. What is the most popular menu at your venue and why?
The guests here at The HAC are a real mix. We have the proper traditional set who really love their smoked salmon starter, proper beef Wellington and old favourites for pudding. I love having to think tradition, but at the same time trying to achieve the best results using modern and innovative ways of cooking, preparation and plating. It’s a real challenge that makes you think about what we are trying to achieve and why.
What was your favourite event in 2021, or in the past in general?
It’d have to be the first big event I did at The HAC. I haven’t really been doing big events because of COVID, so it was a really great feeling and buzz seeing the first big event take off with a bang!
A while ago I also did a massive dinner at Chelsea Football Club for BAFTA, celebrating the life and works of Richard Attenborough, which was amazing. We had everyone who was anyone from the world of football and Hollywood. And also, meeting his brother David Attenborough was a proper privilege.
What are you working on at the moment?
We are developing our summer BBQ offering at the moment and looking ahead to that. It will be exciting to be cooking whole joints over wood and coals on our new fire cages, it’s proper old school cooking with lots of theatre.
What advice would you give those who wish to enter hospitality?
My advice would above all the to embrace every minute. Be a sponge and just learn, learn, learn. Absorb everything, and make sure you get in the right place that makes you feel like home and a family.
Searcys is celebrating its 175th birthday next year. What are you wishes for the company and your colleagues moving forward?
Keep innovating, and keep motivated to achieve the very best we can.