The new Somerset Pavilion opened last autumn and since then it has been given the thumbs up by everybody who has enjoyed its facilities.
In addition to being one of the best places in England to watch First Class cricket, the Somerset Pavilion has also gained something of a reputation for the food it serves.
One of the people responsible for the quality of the food in both the Stragglers Coffee House and the 1875 Club is the chef Radek Kośnik, who joined Somerset CCC at about the same time as the new building opened.
‘Rado’ was born and brought up in Walbrzych in southern Poland and first came to England 11 years ago. When he was younger he had dreams of becoming a tractor driver however he ended up going into the careering trade, much to the delight of those who have sampled his cooking at Somerset CCC.
“This place is really good and amazing to be part of,” he said. “The chefs and the management have looked after me very well and I have been made to feel very welcome indeed. Before the start of the season I ran the Stragglers kitchen and once cricket got underway I was asked if I would like to move upstairs to cook for the members in the 1875 Club which I was delighted to be able to do as it presented me with a new challenge.”
Since then there has been no looking back for Rado, who has been one of the inspirations behind the varied up-market catering available in the 1875 Club and the new winter menu in the Stragglers.
“I have been involved in catering for 10 years now and I have never before worked in a place like this. Before I have always worked in either hotels or restaurants. I started in London as a kitchen porter and since then have worked up through the ranks and became a chef. I didn’t stay there long and moved to Cornwall to work at the Bedruthan Steps. I was there for seven years and then for a short while afterwards at Scarletts Hotel, both of which are at Mawgan Porth.
“When I first started here I was a bit worried about how I would cope and the big pressure that was on me, as I was cooking for Members which are very important to this Club. Then I began to understand what was needed and we moved on from the basic menu to something bit more fancy- fine dining a la carte which I am really good at. I started to do pan fried fish with lots of garnish and things like that using seasonal produce which is what I like to do. Once the members started to like my blackboard specials I kept on doing it and they really seemed to enjoy.
“In fact there was one couple who said that they just kept on coming back to the 1875 Club for lunch because of my pan fried fish! I feel really grateful for that because I know all of my hard work is being appreciated and being enjoyed.”
Now Rado is back working most of the time in the Stragglers kitchen helping to cook what he calls a “Proper Winter Menu”.
“We have got braised beef hot-pot, home made lasagna, fish and chips which everybody likes plus of course omelettes,” he said. “We also serve a full English breakfast, plus a lot of specials like eggs benedict and eggs Florentine so we can offer something a bit different. It makes me feel good and I think that we are getting more people coming to eat in the Stragglers.”
Rado also talked about some of the food he has introduced into the 1875 Club menu including:
Red Snaper with saffron potatoes, summer vegetables, lobster and crab bisque & lobster foam.
Slow roast Pork Belly, crispy black pudding, bacon, apple puree & roasted apples.
Pan fried Chicken breast with potato dauphinoise, thyme roasted carrots, green beans, green curly kale & silverskin onion gravy.
Oven roasted Haddock, new potatoes, spring onion, asparagus, spinach, pak choi & sauce vierge
“This type of food is what I learned when I was in Cornwall and I would like to be able to carry this on next season when I hope the quality of the food will be even better.
Where does he see himself being in five years time? “I would still like to be at Somerset cooking for the members in the 1875 Club,” he said. “I am really happy that I found this job because we like living in Taunton and I also get some time to spend with our little boy who will be two years old very shortly.”