Five minutes with David Taylor

Known for a cooking style that falls under the term Nordic minimalism, David Taylor has had an inspiring career, starting out in the deep end at Gordon Ramsay’s Maze with Jason Atherton, then cooking in places as far flung as Grace in Chicago, Atera in New York and Maaemo in Oslo, where he was part of a team that helped the restaurant gain a third Michelin star.

Now settled back home in the Midlands, David is manning Grace & Savour, which opened in 2022 with a focus on organic, sustainable and often home grown produce. In a leafy spot south of Birmingham, offers a slice of tranquillity and some of the most interesting food you’ll find in the UK, all made with supplies that are as local to Hampton Manor (where the restaurant is based) as possible.

We caught up with David to talk about his experiences and influences, staff meals at Grace & Savour, and his aspirations for the future.

Five minutes with David Taylor

What’s your first memory of food?
Steaming rice when I was five years old at school and thinking it was really boring.

What’s the one dish you couldn’t live without?
Spaghetti alle vongole – its the go-to happy-place dish for me and my wife Anette. Simple, delicious and stress free. Regardless of the situation, be it date night in or something nice among the chaos of two children, it always does the trick.

What menu item at Grace & Savour are you currently most excited about?
Wild hare suet – so comforting, rich and delicious. It’s a gone-in-two-bites dish with a stunning presentation, made by my head chef John. I think it’s a beautiful example of time, place and exceptional produce.

Grace and Savour
Kohlrabi at Grace and Savour

What do you do to relax?
With a newborn and young daughter, relaxing isn’t always on the cards. I’m a lover of coffee, though. On my days off I take the time to brew a Chemex (it’s a special filter loved by coffee geeks – Blossom coffee is my favourite at the moment) and linger over it with a book, podcast or, more often the case, Paw Patrol!

What has been the biggest influence on your relationship with food today?
Since starting the journey of opening Grace & Savour I’ve loved getting to know the people behind the produce we use. Everything from scallop divers to charcoal producers, from cattle farmers to beekeepers – the stories, challenges, sacrifice and love for their field is so inspiring and thought-provoking. I have such love and respect for them all and I find great pleasure in serving their hard work.

Having worked in America and Scandinavia, what has been the most formative experience of your career so far?
Each place has had an impact on me in some way, Curtis Duffy’s team in Chicago were a really tight family. They focused on growing as craftspeople, to help create an incredible experience.

Momofuku KO’s counter experience is like no other with the show they put on, and I admired the lengths Copenhagen’s Relae went to in its commitment to sustainability. At Maaemo in Norway, Esben Holmboe Bang’s vision and how it played out in every meticulous detail will forever stay with me – it’s those principles I’ve built Grace & Savour on.

What’s been your ingredient highlight of the year from the beautiful kitchen garden at Hampton Manor?
This year has to be our lacto-fermented apricot honey. We were fortunate to get an abundance of apricots in our garden, which we lacto fermented in a local honey produced by Maggie on our team. It was this fruity, fragrant, slightly acidic flavour bomb, and it has formed the base of the sauce for our apricot dessert.

What ingredient would you take to a desert island with you?
Milk chocolate Hobnobs. I know it’s not technically an ingredient, but I’m sure I’ll be foraging and grilling fish from the sea, so I’ll need a dessert that will also taste great, regardless of the conditions – and I’m a sucker for these biscuits!

You can have a one-off dinner party on your island… Who would you invite?
A host of chefs and cooks I’ve met and cooked with on my culinary journey. It would be an amazing ‘bring one dish that’s important to you’ kind of event.

What are your staff meals like at Grace and Savour?
We’ve just started something called Classic Fridays, to inspire our team to learn more about the fundamentals of classic cooking. It might be a wellington, coq-au-vin, fricassée, pithivier or a beautifully layered pommes anna. It creates an exciting challenge each week while also schooling our team in the classics.

What’s the best food experience you’ve had in the UK? Something you think everyone should try before they die
Ynyshir restaurant in Wales is one of the most immersive experiences I’ve had in the UK. The depth and thought that’s gone into the whole experience is incredible. It’s in stunning Welsh valley, with 30 courses of stunning flavours and exceptional produce, plus an all-night DJ, disco ball and great wines while you sit in front of the on-show kitchen. It’s a great experience like nothing else in the UK.

Do you have any aspirations and dreams you’ve yet to fulfil?
We are so young as a restaurant at Grace & Savour that I feel we are at the beginning of our journey. I’m so proud of the first 18 months, but there’s so much more we’re working on to keep taking Grace & Savour’s dine-and-stay experience to another level.

On top of that I’d love us to bring positive change for our community of farmers and makers, write a book for young leaders in hospitality, help make organic/biodynamic produce more accessible for all – and many more ideas… It will all take time – and that’s the exciting part of seeing where we go with Grace & Savour.

Find our more about Grace & Savour at Hampton Manor here.

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