Meet the chefs: Pete Johansen & Bent Varming
Pete Johansen and Bent Varming, chefs at the majestic Keythorpe Hall share their recipe for freshly harvested radishes with sunflower butter
Pete perfected his skills working for a string of highly acclaimed restaurants; He began his career at the Connaught Hotel in London, worked at The Harwood Arms in London (1*), Maaemo in Oslo (3*), Brae in Australia (3 Hat) and Relæ (World’s top 50) and Bæst in Copenhagen. He was also a development chef at Quintonil in Mexico City. He met Bent when they were both working as bakers at Brød – one of the best bakeries in Copenhagen.
Bent trained at the internationally renowned Copenhagen Hospitality College before spending most of his career in London, beginning at Sketch (3*) before working at St.John (1*), the forerunner of nose to tail eating, and then moving to highly acclaimed Lyle’s (1*) where he was senior sous chef. He also worked at Dusty Knuckle Bakery – one of the best in London.
Both chefs have a Nordic background, Bent is Danish and Pete is half Norwegian. They are influenced by the new-Nordic approach to cooking which celebrates purity, simplicity and freshness. Ingredients are left to shine which is really evident in their philosophy. They are hyper-seasonal and also use forgotten methods of preserving ingredients to use in the leaner months of the year.
Keythorpe Hall is a country house available for exclusive use, which means each party gets the use of the whole house and grounds privately for the duration of their stay. The hall has seven principal bedrooms all with stunning views over the rolling
Leicestershire hills, and there’s also an additional 3 bedroom apartment. Sleeps up to 20, with additional children’s beds and cots available. Guests vary from groups of friends or family gatherings staying for a weekend getaway or celebrating a special event or mid-week bookings for corporate off-sites and away-days. There is also a hyper seasonal pop-up dining club roughly every other month which has had amazing support from the local community who have come for lunch or dinner and experienced Keythorpe Hall’s food.
For the creation of the menu, the chefs are totally led by what grows in the garden and therefore work very closely with the head gardener and ethnobotanist Claudio Bincoletto. Everything served is carefully sourced - fruit and vegetables are picked moments before use from the walled garden, wild herbs and plants are sustainably foraged from the woodlands, and meat, dairy and fish are sourced from surrounding farms and the best artisan producers. Ingredients are celebrated in their prime and there is the utmost care about where they are coming from. When working with amazing ingredients, there is no need to overwork them. That is what shines through in Keythorpe Halls menus – the chefs let the garden sing.
Serves 2 people
Bunch of radishes – as fresh as possible, washed with leaves still on
170gr Toasted sunflower seeds
100ml Apple cider vinegar 170gr Butter, melted
140gr Rapeseed oil
1. Toast seeds at 150°C (fan) for about 10mins or until they are golden.
2. With a stick blender, blend together seeds, water and vinegar until it becomes a smooth texture.
3. Then add in the melted butter and oil. Season with salt to your liking. (Butter can be fully replaced with oil for a vegan alternative). Serve.