Local pork belly and crackling, Cheddar mash with Thatcher’s cider sauce; seared Brixham scallops with squid ink risotto and pea shoots – these are just a couple of the dishes invented by David Newman for Lasseter’s at the Winter Gardens Pavilion, which opened in September…
“Great food is important to me,” he tells us as we sit in The Florentine Bistro, another new addition to the Winter Gardens complex.
“Good food makes people happy, and the key to good food in my opinion is making the dining experience special. A big part of this is the food, but there are other aspects that make a meal great.
“At Lasseter’s, we want the food to be accompanied with natural and memorable service, great views of Weston’s bay, and we want the food to tell a story. Another important factor is ensuring value for money.”
David grew up in the Weston-Super-Mare area and has fond memories of visiting the Winter Gardens as a child. It was at a young age that David developed a keen interest in food, inspired by his dad, a former RAF chef who has cooked for royalty.
At the age of 15, having completed work experience in a professional kitchen, David started working part-time jobs around his school work as a kitchen porter at Cabot and preparing vegetables at a local Hewish farm. As the years went by he completed an apprenticeship at the Summerhouse in Worle, then gained more experience at the Woolpack.
His first major job was sous chef at Mendip Spring Golf Club, and from here he went on to become a head chef at The Exchange in Bridgwater, where he cooked for high profile clients such as the BBC, and gained a mention in The Times.
After this he went from strength to strength, becoming catering manager at Bristol Water’s head office before returning to the kitchen as head chef at the Friends Life Centre in Bristol. Some highlights of his career around this time were cooking at places like Ascot Racecourse and the Olympics at the Olympic Park, London.
Most recently, he has been working as head chef for catering giant Chartwells at Millfield Senior School in Street, Somerset. At this exclusive school, David worked with top chefs Nick Dorber, Dean Parsons and Chartwells’ executive chef Andrew Walker. These chefs shared David’s love of food and inspired him to take on the opportunity at Lasseter’s at the Winter Gardens.
The restaurant itself follows a 1920s-inspired theme with a modern twist. The Winter Gardens’ iconic columns are painted with luxurious hues of navy and gold, and the bar is adorned with vintage mirrors and blue tiles. The split level layout means that diners at Lasseter’s get to admire the stunning views along the seafront, and there are plans to use the sheltered outdoor seating area on the seafront for barbeques and outdoor catering in the summer months.
The restaurant’s name is a nod to Dr Paul Lasseter Phillips CBE, Weston College’s Principal and Chief Executive, whose leadership of the College since 2001 has been the driving force behind its recent success, and has enabled it to purchase and restore this iconic seafront venue. This recognition is continued in some of the restaurant’s dishes, in particular the Dr 57 cocktail, one of Lasseter’s signature drinks.