Pete Murt at Rick Stein, Sandbanks

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a cookery demonstration at the beautifully set Rick Stein restaurant in Sandbanks and was wowed by the dishes that were created in front of me by Head Chef Pete Murt.

Pete Murt 2018

Pete has been Head Chef at the Sandbanks based restaurant since it’s opening in 2015 and the delicious food is as well known locally as the stunning South Coast setting.

We’ve caught up with Pete to ask him our quick fire questions about his favourite local foods;

Pete, what is your best loved local ingredient?

Brownsea Island oysters! You can see where they harvest the oysters from the restaurant, and their texture and taste is lovely!


How would you use this at home?

Simply opened and eaten as they are, or I would deep fry them in a tempura batter with a soy and sweet chilli dipping sauce (a good way to give people oysters if they aren’t too keen at first).

What is your first choice dish to create and also to eat?

Any fish really. Mackerel is always a firm favourite as it’s so versatile, quite nice this time of year to put some on the BBQ to give it a nice smoky flavour and crisp blistered skin and serve simple with a fresh tomato and red onion salad

Do you have a favourite spot on the South Coast?

Bit bias but the restaurant is great, especially this time of year as sunsets and the view across the water to Poole is magnificent!

Thank you for your time Pete! If you have yet to visit Rick Stein in Sandbanks or you’re eager for another visit (I know I am!) then you can click here for their website.

Thanks for reading!


Taste of the South

ROUTEpr and Events are all set for the return of Taste of the South 2018, a festival in its second year that will take place on 21st and 22nd July with a brand new destination – Chapel Gate, which is set in the spectacular and secluded surroundings, making it an ideal back drop for a festival.

The festival location is adjacent to Bournemouth Airport and is easily accessible from the A338 as well as Wimborne, Ferndown, Poole, Bournemouth, Christchurch and surrounding areas, with free parking available.

 Jackie Phillipson Founder of ROUTEpr and Taste of the South lets us in on what we can expect….

Jackie, we’re all looking forward to Taste of the South this year. What can we expect to see?

Last year we saw over 13000 people through the door in 2 days and we’re predicting more this year! It’s a multi-generational day and there will be something for everyone of all ages. There will be local food and decadent drinks, unique products and handcrafted artisanal goods!

The festival will also be featuring a dedicated Health and Wellbeing area called the ‘Zen Den’ which will feature outdoor yoga classes, healthy food and drink, talks and vegan goodies. We are promoting sustainability and trying to reduce the use of plastic at the event! There will live music, entertainment chef demonstrations – something for all the family.

We’re inviting children to attend the new Cub Corner area with their parents and grandparents, to enjoy storytelling, games, face painting and even the chance to grow their own plant to take home. Educating and teaching the “cubs” is set to be an important factor of the new area, introducing them to the world of food, where it comes from and giving them a chance to learn about all things South.

Taste of the South is going to be relaxed, fun and chilled event, there really is something for everyone!


What chefs will be attending?

When it comes to food there is an abundance of talent attending including MasterChef winner Shelina Permalloo, Nick Evan the Head of the Rick Steins Cookery School in Padstow, Chris Wheeler from Stoke Park as well as many talented locally based Chefs such as Pete Murt from Rick Steins Sandbanks, Sarah Ali Choudhury, Mark Hartstone La Fosse. There will be a focus on artisanal food, both British and International.


 We’re seeing a welcome increase in the number of food based events in the area, why do you think this is?

People are appreciating good food more and care about where the produce they eat is coming from. Everyone loves to eat and buy locally produced products, which are handmade and crafted by creative individuals. Food based events are popular because they are something everybody can enjoy. You can watch chef demonstrations, learn to cook, taste new and exciting products, find out about the history of food. The food and drink industry is forever changing so there is always something new popping up.

People are becoming more aware about what they eat and so are more curious about food products such as dairy free, vegan, gluten free alternatives. It’s great to see so many businesses getting creative with food, at Taste of the South we get so excited when we receive an application from a unique food producer.

How can people get their hands on some tickets?

We are running a few competitions on social media to win tickets so keep your eyes peeled! Alternatively they are very fairly priced at just £4 advance adult ticket, and kids under 12 go for free! You can buy tickets at . Parking at the event is FREE and Children are FREE when they bring an adult!


Jackie thank you so much for your time, we can’t wait for Taste of the South!

Thanks for reading,



James Golding – THE PIG

You may not have heard of James Golding by name but as Chef Director of THE PIG Hotels you will most certainly know him by reputation.

A self confessed lover of food, fishing and foraging James’ style when it comes to cuisine is as renowned as the beautiful settings in which have become synonymous with THE PIG Hotels.


James, what is your best-loved local ingredient?

A pinch of Salt Hampshire Charcuterie, it’s made from local free-range pigs and has a brilliant range of products. It enables us to use a multi award winning, locally based product on our menu. The Butcher (Alan Bartlett) who makes the cured meats is the third generation Butcher in his shop and works closely with myself and THE PIG and also creates bespoke products.

I also LOVE Lyburn cheese, Howarts hive honey, Manor farm flock (badger faced lamb and Hogget), IOW tomatoes, Berry Hill Farm for vegetables and Jeff Lander for shell fish.

It’s fantastic to see all of those local ingredients, how would you use these at home?

Cured meat boards, risottos, on pasta dishes, with tomatoes etc…

What is your first choice dish to eat and also create?

Probably something to do with a wood oven. We use a Gozney wood oven to showcase the cured meats as well as our 8 varieties of tomatoes and basil that we grow at THE PIGs. I love the simplicity of a flatbread pizza and the freshness of a ripe tomato paired with some amazing Wiltshire Burrata.


Do you have a favourite spot on the South Coast?

Yes, we live in Christchurch but I love Hengistbury Head and Mudeford Spit. It’s the perfect place to walk our dogs and the views are breathtaking in the summer as well as winter. You can grab a coffee at the cafe on the Spit and the beach is lovely there too.

A huge thank you to James for taking the time to talk to us. If you wanted more information on THE PIG you can click here. I’m looking to enjoying a fresh flatbread and taking in the stunning views at the THE PIG on the beach soon!


Thanks for reading,


Harry Hunter at NEO Restaurant

With a stunning location and a beautiful setting Neo Restaurant in Bournemouth is the perfect location for special occasions, light bites or even cocktails on the stylish terrace.

At the heart of the team here is Harry Hunter, a talented Chef with a passion for producing stunning dishes with local ingredients.


Harry, what is your best loved local ingredient?

Any fish caught off the South Coast

How would you use this at home?

At home I would do something simple and pan roast the fish to serve it with a bean cassoulet.


What is your first choice dish to create and also to eat?

My first choice dish to create and eat is a salmon pave, crushed new potatoes and some fresh green veg. Especially in the summer months!

Do you have a favourite spot on the South Coast?

The New Forest – it’s the perfect ‘staycation’

A huge thank you to Harry, I know I will definitely be attempting this at home when it looks this good!

Thanks for reading,


Heartled Wellbeing

A huge part of what makes the South Coast special is the lifestyle we are able to enjoy. But what happens if we neglect or don’t take the time to consider our wellbeing? 

This week I met with Annie Raven-Vause from Heartled Wellbeing. Based in Wimborne (she also has rooms in Bournemouth and Dorchester), Annie, a qualified psychotherapist, master practitioner of NLP, nurse and midwife, has spent three decades working in and around health and social care. She now runs her own wellbeing practice.

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Typically we spend 22-25% of our lives in the workplace where typically 1 in 6 UK workers will experience stress, anxiety or depression, indeed stress is the most important reason behind long-term sickness absence in the UK today and there is no doubt it costs our economy. Heartled Wellbeing are focusing on working with local businesses to improve this. 

Annie, how important is it that we consider all aspects of our health and lifestyle and not just what is visual to us?

It’s hugely important that we consider all aspects of our health, physical, emotional and social. We believe if your body is unhappy with what you are doing with it or what you are putting inside it, it will work to create symptoms of ‘dis-ease’ to tell you about it. So when we work with our clients we always take holistic approach to look at the whole person in the context of their life. Naturally this includes their family and support systems.

We help people create a wellness recovery plan that takes them towards improved physical and mental wellbeing.  We want them to get the joy back in their lives. This might include teaching them things like the importance of self-renewal, we call it ‘me time’, ‘thee time’ and ‘we time’ or working on a deeper level programme of personal change. In a nutshell if I take time for me, then you have the right to take time for you and that means that the time we spend together will be that much better. We believe everyone should ideally spend 15 to 30 minutes engaged in one or more activities that will recharge them mentally, physically and spiritually 3 to 5 times a week where possible. It can be anything from a walk outside to a relaxing bath.

senior couple outdoors

 You’ve started working with businesses in the area on their workplace wellbeing , what do you see is the biggest need at the moment?

The biggest need is the recognition around employee wellbeing. The economy is tight, people are trying to do more with less and employees are frightened to say no, so the hours over contract culture is becoming the norm. Staff often end up too tired to think straight and that leads to mistakes. You’ve only to look at national sickness figures to see there is a problem and often this is because we don’t teach people or companies about workplace wellbeing.

We work with organisations to introduce sustainable wellbeing programmes. We start by looking at their metrics; how much time they are losing from sickness away from the workplace? Are there any trends? Are people away from work due to stress? What is staff turn over saying? 

From this we create a bespoke programme to develop a culture of wellbeing that will work specifically for them. It could be assistance with leadership empowerment, fast track to physiotherapy or chiropractic treatment or on-site performance coaching, counselling and therapy appointments. We also have a huge variety of people we work with so we can bring together a team of specialists who can radically transform your workplace, from Physiotherapists, Chiropractors to Coaches and Reflexologists etc. When you have this in place your staff become engaged and they feel cared for which in turns brings a more motivated and proactive team, less time lost and improved profit.

What plans have you got coming up for the future?

In the coming months we are hoping to launch two new services, retreats and a mens group called Boys, Braves & Bonfires.  The retreats will be based in Dorset because we have a ready access to a world heritage site and beautiful countryside. 

‘Boys, Braves and Bonfires’ is a new Dorset support network run ‘by men for men’ which aims to grow and become a national organisation. The aim is to help men develop and improve career, relationships, their friendships and reduce emotional isolation during times of transition, such as becoming a husband, a father, an elder, when facing divorce, or acting as a carer, during bereavement, and other pivotal times. That might mean children leaving home, redundancy or career re-organisation.”

‘Boys, Braves and Bonfires’ has been designed to be a safe and supportive space where men bond whilst undertaking fun activities for example playing the didgeridoo,foraging, hurdle making, wood and wilderness crafts, sporting events and walks. However, a group might choose to tackle a community interest project as members’ interests drive organic growth.

 What do you love about being on the South Coast?

I’m originally from Cheshire and I moved to the South Coast in 1985 after a round the world trip. We came back to Manchester and after 2 weeks decided to move to the opposite end of the country!  The beaches and the light are the biggest draw for me, I love being able to be out in the elements preferably by the sea (I used to be a windsurfing teacher!). Dorset does it differently!

Work life balance choices

 It has been a pleasure speaking with Annie and if you would like more information you can click here for the Heartled Wellbeing website. They can also be found on both Facebook and Twitter!

 You can also hear Annie on Radio Solent on the 12thJune on the Sasha Twining show speaking around building confidence!

 Thank you for reading,


Jan & Stacey from Restaurant Roots

Restaurant Roots is a contemporary fine dining restaurant in Southbourne run by husband and wife team Jan and Stacey, specialising in tasting menu experiences to excite the senses.


What is your best-loved local ingredient?

One of our best loved local ingredient is New Forest Strawberries.

Our New Forest strawberry desert with elderflower and white asparagus

How would you use this at home?

The best home use is marinated with some sugar, lemon and mint, fresh vanilla ice cream.

What is your first choice dish to create and also to eat?

Our signature dish in the restaurant is Celeriac with preserved winter truffle ice cream, grapes and hazelnuts.


Do you have a favourite spot on the South Coast?

We love South Deep Cafe in Parkstone Bay Marina!

Thank you so much to Jan and Stacey for their time, if you haven’t experienced the wonderous tasting menu at Roots then I would really recommend paying them a visit. You can find out more information here.

As always, thank you for reading!







Abbots Court

If you live on the South Coast then the chances are that you will have heard of the newly established Abbots Court, nestled on the outskirts of Winterborne Kingston. If you haven’t then you’re in for a treat given it’s the brain child of the husband and wife team behind The Tickled Pig!

The large rambling Victorian farmhouse is set in five acres of its own woodland, meadow and also boasts its own original walled kitchen garden. At Abbots Court guests are able to enjoy the simple pleasures in life – long lazy walks through the rolling Dorset countryside, food picked fresh from the garden, roaring fires and cosy evenings spent in the company of those you love.

I’ve sat down with Jez who along with his wife Niki have worked hard to create something very special indeed.


Abbots Court opened at the beginning of the year; not only as a beautiful hotel, but as somewhere guests can escape to for a nostalgic trip back to a time when things where simpler. Where did you find the inspiration for this? 

We lived in France for 7 years in a 400-year-old ruin which we lovingly converted and enjoyed the simpler life. We sat around the dinner table with friends, eating food from the garden and collecting eggs from the chickens. I was very taken aback by the tremendous reaction I was getting from my friends about the food I was serving from our garden. When our eldest daughter Lily was born we wanted to move back home to the UK and recreate what we had achieved in France.

We are all so busy and get so caught up in life that it’s easy to forget that having everyone sat down together and enjoying a meal is such an enriching thing to do.

Most people will already know you from your delicious food at The Tickled Pig; what can we look forward to when it comes to food at Abbots Court?

We have two Head Chefs; Alex Naik and Mike Parry. They are amazing at what they do and really are the genius behind the food. Alex is aiming to achieve a Michelin star in the next 4 years but I’m confident he will achieve this before then!

Guests can look forward to beautiful food that is not overly complicated, full of great flavours and textures and celebrating the produce we use. Lots of which has gone from garden to plate within hours

Pork belly, scallops, crispy sage & burnt apple puree

What can guests expect from a stay at Abbots Court?

An escape from reality, enjoying the simpler things in life with good food, good wine and great company.

We want guests to enjoy the garden and the space outside as well as the house, it will feel like a complete break from the outside world!


What exciting plans do you have for the rest of the year?

 The thing I am most excited about is the garden – we’re going to get some teepees that you can cook in and have fires in too. We want to be the one destination for people to come and learn about food. We’re going to be running some courses that will be wholesome, laidback and will inspire people to get involved with food.

At the heart of everything we do is our food and the produce along with the experience we can give our guests.

Afternoon Tea outdoors anyone?

If you want to know more about Abbots Court can click HERE for their website, you can also find them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

As always, thank you for reading!