When we met… Neil Hollis, National Museum Cardiff

British Food Fortnight (22 September-7 October 2018) is the largest annual UK event dedicated to celebrating British produce and producers. We sat down with the National Museum Cardiff’s head chef, Neil Hollis, to find out more about the venues locally-sourced and inspired menus.

How much does Welsh produce feature in your event catering at the National Museum Cardiff?

Welsh produce takes pride of place in the events menu at NMC, we have huge pride in sourcing Welsh produce such as pork reared at our sister site St Fagans. Welsh cheese is always a popular choice within our canapes and starters in particular Pant-Ys-Gawn (goats’ cheese).

Do you have any particular style of food or special menu items that you specialise in?

Welsh lamb is very popular for high-end corporate events and weddings served with seasonal vegetables and roast potatoes – it always puts a smile on everyone’s face.

Is the menu at National Museum Cardiff more traditional, or is it developed as trends emerge, such as veganism, or street food?

Yes, I would class it as traditional, but we have developed the menu this summer to ensure we are able to enhance our vegan and street food trends. We are often asked to develop bespoke menus to reflect an event or exhibition for the Museum, for example this summer we have hosted several Japanese-inspired events, a children’s dinosaur-themed sleepover at the Museum and are currently planning a food offer to enhance an exhibition of Tim Peaks Soyuz Capsule being hosted by the Museum in November.

We have also redeveloped our children’s offer through our retail outlets to be able to offer more healthy choices for our younger guests.

What has been your favourite menu or dish you have created at National Museum Cardiff, and why?

We recently delivered an event where Welsh products were the star:

Canapes         

Rarebit bites made with Caerphilly cheese and chives
Pants Gawn goats’ cheese and sundried tomato tart

Starter            

Severn & Wye hot smoked salmon with grilled asparagus, horseradish yoghurt, cucumber chutney and soda bread

Mains             

Loin of Welsh lamb (halal) with rosemary & thyme crust with leek & braised lamb croquette, baby carrots, pea puree and lamb jus

Dessert           

Lemon posset with strawberries, lime meringues and mini lemon & blueberry Welsh cakes

Have you had any unusual requests for catering, or anything that has stuck out in your mind?

Having to deliver a corporate lunch for 120 where the brief was ‘I don’t want it to be beige’.

How do you source your ingredients – are they all locally-based, do you use techniques such as farm-to-fork and nose-to-tail?

We endeavour to work toward farm-to-fork but it is not always feasible. However, we do buy red tractor meat, source Welsh free range eggs, organic pasta, Welsh cheese, butter, cream & milk and make our own burgers from Welsh meat.