Published: 12:01, 15 October 2017
| Updated: 13:43, 15 October 2017
Once described by owner Stephen Harris as a “grotty, run-down pub by the sea”, The Sportsman is now one of the top in the country.
The pub at Seasalter, near Whitstable, was taken over by former financial adviser Stephen back in 1999 after he taught himself to cook.
But its rise since has been more meteoric than any soufflé, holding a Michelin star since 2008.
The sought-after accolade is from the Michelin Guide Great Britain and Ireland, which recommends 3,000 places to eat and sleep with restaurants and pubs awarded Michelin Stars for the quality of their food.
The Sportsman retained its star along with just one other in the county – the West House in Biddenden – and in August it made the Top 50 list in the 2017 Good Food Guide.
It has also become the place to dine at, with Gary Lineker tweeting about his top-notch meal this summer, TV baker Paul Hollywood visiting in 2015 and the notoriously hard-to-please Times restaurant critic Giles Coren calling it “amazing” in 2013.
Now, the long-awaited debut food book from the self-taught chef who transformed the eatery has been released.
More than just a cookbook, it tells the story of The Sportsman’s transformation from sticky-carpet boozer to internationally acclaimed restaurant serving innovative regional cuisine with a cult following around the world.
It also tells the story of Stephen’s own transformation from financial adviser to world-renowned chef with a reputation for his pared-back style.
The Sportsman uses the best ingredients available locally, from the salt marsh lamb sourced from the farm next door, to the farm supplying the pork, and even the salt is sourced from the sea it is alongside.
The book also showcases 50 Sportsman classic recipes, accompanied by Stephen’s personal memories of the dishes. Highlights include reflections on the importance of roe in his recipe for turbot with a smoked roe sauce and the history and inspiration for his summer fruit salad.
The recipes are divided into six chapters that follow his own concept: The Sea, The Salt Marshes, The Farms, The Woodlands, The Gardens and The Orchards.
A section dedicated to “the basics” includes recipes for homemade butter, seaweed butter, focaccia, parsley purée and spinach purée, all served at the restaurant.
There’s also glimpses of Stephen’s life, including photos from his punk years, shopping lists and the early days of the restaurant – when a Christmas menu from 1999 was £15.
The Sportsman by Stephen Harris, the chef behind the Michelin starred restaurant, is out now. It costs £29.95 in hardback and is published by Phaidon.
Find The Sportsman pub at Faversham Road, Seasalter, Whitstable, CT5 4BP. Call 01227 273370 to book or visit thesportsmanseasalter.co.uk
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