Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Wedding Photoshoot - 2nd March 2015

Here at Brocket Hall, we take pride in our beautiful wedding venues and love an opportunity to show them off. The wonderful Expression Photography had a great day with us earlier this month, trying out their new equipment. Brett Harkness joined them to style the shoot and I hope you agree the results are stunning!

For the full gallery, visit our Facebook page - or follow this link:

Thank you also to Sam at Beautiful You, and Anna Rose for the make-up and hair (respectively), Elegant Stems for the flowers and a massive thank you to Ray & Chelsey; the lovely models for the day!

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Wild Garlic Risotto - with Marcus McGuinness

I love this time of year. Spring is in the air, and I can finally break out of my kitchen and head for the great outdoors in search of wild and wonderful ingredients.

Winter is not a great time for foraging, you see - what with the cold, rain and snow, you’d be hard pushed to find anything edible - let alone tasty - growing amongst the bushes.  But now the sun is starting to creep through, it’s my sign that I’m about to get my hands on all sorts of deliciously wild ingredients from as close to home as the Brocket Hall Estate grounds where my restaurant, Auberge du Lac, is situated.

Despite my passion for foraging, I have to admit that I’m rather hesitant about encouraging people to forage. Not to sound boring, but picking mushrooms, for example, is not something that anyone should take on lightly – believe it or not, there’s a lot of skill involved in identifying the types of mushrooms, and getting it wrong can have very serious consequences.

However, there are some wild ingredients that I’m not quite so strict about – my favourite being the one that you can probably smell right now if you try hard enough… Wild Garlic! Foraging for wild garlic is a whole different ball game to mushrooms and the like – yes, you still need to be careful, but if you let your nose lead the way, you can’t go too far wrong. 

Wild garlic is usually found in woodlands, near or among the bluebells. Once you’ve spotted it, you’ll probably notice just how much of it there is – some describe it as a carpet of wild garlic! It is identifiable by its lush leaves, and more importantly, its smell.  Before collecting it, rub and crush some of the leaves in your hand to ensure the familiar scent of the garlic is released.

Unlike domestic garlic, wild garlic is championed for its leaves, rather than its bulbs – although everything is edible, from the bulb to the flowers. The leaves start appearing from early March and they only really last until late May. Late May is when the flowers arrive, though, so all is not lost, although they are much smaller in quantity than the leaves. In early autumn you can actually dig up the bulb itself and use it as you would a domestic garlic bulb – but be warned, you won’t find it split into handy cloves, and it would spell the end of your garlic plant.

Wild garlic has a very similar taste to domestic garlic, but it is slightly milder, and you may be pleased to hear that it doesn’t take hold of your breath in the same powerful way either! The leaves are absolutely delicious raw or cooked, and work very well in salads and soups. I personally love stirring them in to pastas and risottos too – here is one of my favourite risotto recipes:

Wild Garlic Risotto


  • Splash of olive oil
  • 50g goat's butter
  • 4 shallots - diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic - chopped
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 200g risotto rice
  • 100ml white wine
  • 600ml chicken stock
  • 100g parmesan cheese
  • 100g mascarpone
  • 200g wild garlic leaves - washed and chopped
  • Lemon juice - optional


  • Add the shallots, garlic, thyme, and a pinch of salt to a pan with the olive oil and butter
  • Sweat down for 4-5 minutes, or until translucent
  • Add the risotto rice and sweat down for a further 4-5 minutes, or until translucent
  • Add the white wine
  • Add the chicken stock 100ml at a time - stirring all the time. Wait until each 100ml of chicken stock has been absorbed before adding the next. This will take approximately 18-20 minutes
  • Take the rice off the heat
  • Stir in the parmesan and mascarpone, and check if it needs seasoning
  • Pop a lid on and let it rest for 4-5 minutes
  • Stir in the chopped wild garlic leaves
  • If desired, finish with a squeeze of lemon juice

Monday, 12 January 2015

January Golf Tip: Club Path and Face Angle

with Simon Garner, Head Professional

Previously we've looked at the importance of centre striking on your driver by setting the correct tee peg height. This all related to the fundamentals of ANGLE OF ATTACK - golf jargon for which way the club hits the ball; UP, DOWN, or LEVEL.

This month we look at club path and club face. Often confusing but when you get it, your game can change. Recent surveys revealed 66% of all golfers believe the swing path dictates the initial direction of the ball.

TRUE OR FALSE? "If your ball starts right of your target line, this means that your club path is inside out."


If, at impact, the club face is pointing to the right by more than 2:1 to the club path, the ball can start right. You could have a swing path left (and possibly a divot) but the ball could start straight away to the right and in some instances turn left in flight!

We now know, thankfully, through TrackMan Launch Monitors, what is happening. Real improvement is taking place through proper feedback and as a result, improved confidence with knowledge and good practice.

In the case of an iron:

  • 85% of ball direction is determined by the face angle at impact.
  • 15% of ball direction is determined by the path direction at impact
Next time you hit a wayward shot, think: CLUB FACE FIRST. This will improve your feel and make you aware of alignment and grip, as well as hand action in the swing.

Simon Garner
Head Professional

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Five teenagers are told 'You Khan Succeed' with BH scholarships

Five elite teenage golfers have been granted scholarships at the prestigious Brocket Hall Golf Club where they will be mentored by the two-time Eurpoean Tour winner Simon Khan.

Khan, 42, who won the 2004 Celtic Manor Wales Open and the 2010 BMW PGA Championship, helped launch the Brocket Hall scholarship programme earlier this year, in his role as club ambassador, and the five youngsters – aged between 13 and 18 – will each receive 24 months’ membership at the historic club and coaching from renowned head professional Simon Garner.

Each new scholar underwent individual assessment days and were selected on a number of performance and personal criteria. Four reside in Hertfordshire with the youngest heading across the county boundary from Essex.

Ashley Chambers, 13, from Brentwood, won the Essex U14 Junior Golf Tour order of merit handicap title, playing off 13.7, and was runner-up in the scratch event.

Rory Superfine, 16, who lives in Harpenden and plays off a handicap of 6.6, is a regular member of the men’s scratch team at Aldwickbury Park and has won a number of club titles. He is currently 13th on the Hertfordshire U18 handicap order of merit, with four events remaining.

England Schools’ team member and scratch golfer Robert Shaw, 17, from Welwyn Garden City, is the current leader of the scratch Hertfordshire U18 order of merit, finished tied 24th in the Irish Boys Amateur Championship and, last year, captained the county’s U17 team.

Five-handicapper Harry Cater, 17, also from Welwyn Garden City, is also a top-20 scratch Hertfordshire U18 order of merit player, and has been club champion twice at a previous club, Chesfield Downs.

And 18-year-old Anna Collis, from Letchworth, who was this year’s Hertfordshire junior county champion off a four handicap, completes the line-up of lucky scholars. She was also awarded a place on the England regional U18 squad this summer and has won a number of junior opens across the region.

Naturally, each of the teenagers is keen to pursue a professional career and they all see this opportunity as a stepping stone to achieving that ambition.

Cater spoke for all of them when he said: “The scholarship will be very beneficial as I get to use the great facilities at Brocket Hall Golf Club and also be involved with Simon Garner, who will help massively as he is very skilled in the psychological side of the game. And, finally, I will also receive great advice from Simon Khan, which will help me fulfil my dreams.”

Welcoming them to the renowned Palmerston Academy at Brocket Hall, Essex-born Khan said: “These youngsters have already shown they have natural ability and they now have the opportunity to develop that talent in a thoroughly professional environment. Each will have their own, personal tailored programme designed to give them the best chance to progress their golf career.

“I wish them all well and I look forward to working with them alongside Simon Garner.”

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Saracens give Brocket Hall a try

We are delighted to announce a new partnership with Saracens 

Aviva Premiership giants Saracens have agreed a corporate membership package at Brocket Hall Golf Club

The package will see players at the Hendon-based rugby union club, which formerly played its matches at nearby Watford FC, using the historic golf club to relax and unwind outside of training and match hours. The Allianz Park outfit will also host a corporate golf day at the Hertfordshire venue.

Last year’s Premiership and Heineken Cup runners-up have a number of England players within the ranks, including Owen Farrell, and the Vunipola brothers, Billy and Mako. Like Brocket Hall, the rugby giants have a long history, dating back to 1876, with titles in both domestic league and cup competitions.

And they are not the first major sports club to link up with Brocket Hall, with professional football clubs Tottenham Hotspur and Watford also enjoying corporate benefits at the Welwyn estate.

Saracens' Ross McCann said: “We are delighted to be able to team up with Brocket Hall to be our home away from our Allianz Park home. The luxurious club will be an ideal base for our staff to enjoy a round of golf or simply relax or enjoy a healthy meal. The two clubs share an ethos of quality and I’m sure our staff will enjoy their experience of the historic and beautiful venue.”

David Griffin, director of golf operations at Brocket Hall, said: “As a Saracens fan myself, I’m overjoyed that we are able to welcome the club to Brocket Hall and I hope we are able to play a small part in their drive to achieve success on all fronts this season.”  

Visit Saracens at

Monday, 11 November 2013

Wedding Open Day: Sunday 10th November

We hosted our Wedding Open Day on Sunday 10th November - and what a beautiful autumn day we had for it! The sun was shining and the Estate looked stunning.

Over 40 couples were welcomed with their friends and family to see Brocket Hall at its very best. The Boardroom was set for a Civil Ceremony by the Wedding House, with chair covers and a striking white aisle runner. The Ballroom had a combination of wonderful flowers by Lanshire Floral Design and extravagant decor by Platinum Raspberry. We were thrilled to see everybody enjoying the Hall as a potential venue for their special day.

Some photos of the day can be found on Platinum Raspberry's Facebook page:

Friday, 25 October 2013

Phil Thompson - the end of a wonderful era

Today Auberge du Lac say goodbye to Phil Thompson, their renowned and tireless Executive Chef who is moving on and starting up his own restaurant.

We wish him every success with the new venture. There are really no words to show our appreciation for his dedication, hard work and enthusiasm over the last 11 years as he transformed Auberge du Lac into one of the finest restaurants in the area and was rewarded with a much coveted Michelin Star in 2009.

Phil Thompson was born on July 7th 1978 in Dagenham, Essex. Always intrigued by the kitchen and supported by a family of “foodies” Phil started his career in 1996 as commis chef at The Lanesborough in Hyde Park. This 5 star diamond hotel, as it was then, was to be where Phil had his first experience of working in a Michelin Star and 3 AA Rosette kitchen.

Two years later he moved to the Orrery in Marylebone as a demi chef de partie and was later promoted to chef de partie. In his 18 months there, Phil witnessed and contributed to the team's first Michelin Star. In 1999, Phil went to work for yet another five star establishment and was part of the opening team at St Martin's Lane Hotel, as a chef de partie. Keen to experience as many kitchens as possible, the new millennium saw Phil move again, this time to L'Escargot's Picasso Room. In his two and a half years there he was promoted from chef de partie to junior sous chef, and again, had the opportunity to be part of an outstanding culinary team. During this time The Picasso Room was awarded a Michelin Star and three AA Rosettes.

Finally, Phil joined Auberge du Lac in 2002, as Sous Chef. Promoted to Head Chef at Auberge du Lac almost immediately, he has provided an outstanding contribution to the success of the Auberge du Lac and was further promoted to Executive Chef in 2007; a new role to oversee the kitchens and menus for Auberge du Lac, Brocket Hall and Brocket Hall Golf Club. Since arriving at Auberge, Phil has increased their rating in “The Good Food Guide” from 4/10 to 6/10, has achieved another AA Rosette bringing the restaurant’s total to three, and in 2009 was awarded a much coveted Michelin Star.

Phil is insistent on being hands on and successfully perfects the art of combining the best traditions of French cooking with his own, essentially English background. An inspired chef whose career is in the ascendance, he has a very simple philosophy: “I have a passion for what I do and enjoy working with the finest produce England has to offer. I find mentoring and teaching other aspiring chefs as rewarding as I find cooking for people who enjoy and appreciate good quality food.”

Phil’s other interests include rugby and he is an avid Wasps fan. He also follows football where he worships only one team, Dagenham and Redbridge, and he enjoys partaking in a huge amount of charity work. In 2010 Phil ran the London Marathon for the Willow Foundation, in an impressive time of 5 hours 26 minutes, and more recently held a well received event for Help for Heroes.

We celebrate Phil's era at Auberge du Lac and Brocket Hall as he leaves us to pursue his dream of running his own restaurant in St Albans, having made more than a mark on the history of this historic estate.

Cheers Phil - you'll be a huge success as always!

You can follow Phil on Twitter: