The Bar & Conservatory at Linthwaite House Welcomes New Head Chef Gerald van der Walt image

The Bar & Conservatory at Linthwaite House Welcomes New Head Chef Gerald van der Walt

Nestled within 14 acres of pristine gardens and private woodland grounds overlooking Windermere, Linthwaite House is a contemporary country house hotel in the heart of the Lake District

In addition to the sought-after setting and luxurious accommodation, the hilltop hideaway is home to The Bar & Conservatory, where diners are invited to enjoy a culinary experience blending five-star sophistication with laid-back charm against the backdrop of unparalleled Windermere views. 

On 8 January, The Bar & Conservatory welcomed their new Head Chef, Gerald van der Walt


A Celebrated Start

Gerald has previously worked for the Leeu Collection at Le Quartier Français, their five-star boutique hotel in Franschhoek, South Africa. 
“I have always coveted the position at Linthwaite House - so when the opportunity finally arose, I just could not say no,” he enthuses. 

He brings an impressive background and experience to the position. His introduction to the food service industry was an early one, beginning with his work at a deli in New York at age 16. He received his formal training and initial restaurant experience in South Africa, where he qualified from the International Hotel School before working at the five-star hotel, The Plettenberg, for the prestigious Liz McGrath Collection.
Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux Peter Templehoff (now Founder and Owner of the acclaimed Fyn Restaurant) has always been an inspiration to Gerald, and he moved to Cape Town as soon as the opportunity arose to work under his mentorship at The Greenhouse Restaurant in Constantia. 
While hosting the New Members’ Lunch, Grand Chef Dinner and Final Banquet for the 2012 Relais & Châteaux Congress at The Greenhouse in 2012, Gerald was able to meet and learn from the likes of French Chef Raymond Blanc, English-French Chef Michel Roux Jr., and a list of almost 30 Michelin-starred names in attendance.  
During Gerald’s time at The Greenhouse, it won Best Restaurant in South Africa in the 2011 Eat Out Guide, and has since remained within their top ranks. But it is the more personal highlights, rather than the accolades, that he remembers most fondly. 
“My most memorable experience at The Greenhouse was creating the menu and cooking for The Elders during their week at the hotel. We served Desmond Tutu’s retirement dinner, as well as all the meals for public figures like Jimmy Carter, Richard Branson, Kofi Annan and Peter Gabriel, to name a few,” he reminisces. 
It was also at this time that Gerald was able to gain more international exposure, with periods of work experience at Eleven Madison Park and Le Bernardin in New York. 
His next chapter under Grand Chef guidance was with award-winning Dutch Chef Margot Janse at Le Quartier Français. The restaurant at the time - The Tasting Room - was named in the Top 5 in the Eat Out Guide for the three years during his tenure, as well as Best Restaurant on the African Continent in the 2013 San Pellegrino list. Working with Margot at the Rheingau Gourmet & Wein Festival in Germany was another highlight of this period for Gerald, who was able to meet celebrated French Chef Pierre Gagnaire and others of a similar ilk at the event. 


A Journey into The Lakes 

The Lake District leg of Gerald’s culinary explorations began under the expertise of award-winning British Chef Simon Rogan, where he started at Aulis, followed by Our Farm and Rogan & Co, all in Cartmel. 
Opening a new restaurant for the Brockhole Tourist Information Centre was his next Lakes adventure. Once the venture - The Gaddum - was set up and nominated for Best Newcomer in Lancashire Life Magazine in 2019, Gerald made his way to Harry’s Café at Yew Tree Barn, where he was part of the team to see the establishment winning Best Café in Cumbria in the 2022 Cumbria Food Awards; being named as a Local Gem in the 2022 Good Food Guide; and fetching the title of Best Tea Room and Café in Lancashire Life in 2023. 
When asked for his take on the rich culinary tradition of The Lakes, Gerald focuses on a combination of hearty comfort food and fresh, seasonal produce
“Cumbrian food in particular is very rich and comforting, with lots of lamb, hot pots, stews, soups and other hearty dishes mixed with grains,” he explains. “In the spring and summer, we make the most of all the wild-growing ingredients, like damsons, berries, and wild garlic.”
Wild garlic, in particular, is a local ingredient about which he is particularly passionate.
“I’ve been blown away by the flavour and versatility of wild garlic, and use the whole plant - leaves, flowers and capers - processing it into oils and fermenting, pickling and preserving it to keep throughout the year,” he shares. 


A New Chapter for The Bar & Conservatory

Gerald’s new position at The Bar & Conservatory will see him presenting familiar flavours in innovative ways
“I want to offer diners foods with which they are familiar, but surprise them with different twists,” he explains. “For example, oxtail is a local favourite here, but my take on it is oxtail fritters, which I slow cook overnight, braise in stock, pick off the bone, and mix with herbs, mustard and capers before binding with a cheese sauce and serving with a smoked tomato and pickled fennel purée.”
Another local staple uniquely presented is his cauliflower cheese, which he braises overnight and serves in a ham hock gratin with his homemade teriyaki sauce. 
“One thing Peter Templehoff drilled into me was the importance of using contradictory flavours and textures for a more interesting dining experience,” he explains. 
Other examples of this approach can be found in his lemon meringue choux bun and apricot parfait, which offer “the perfect combination of sweetness, acidity, and a bit of crunch.” 
A further cornerstone of his food philosophy is the use of fresh, local and seasonal ingredients
“I try to avoid buying imported foods, insofar as possible,” he asserts. “The quality really decreases the longer you have to wait for your ingredients. While right now - in the dead of winter - is not the best time to start with fresh local ingredients, I am excited for the spring, when the different fruits and herbs will start to pop up, and I will also be able to grow some of my own in the raised beds on site.”
While he prefers his ingredients local, Gerald does draw inspiration from global influences. 
“Asian cuisine has been a consistent influence in my food,” he shares. “I love pickling, fermenting, and making my own teriyaki sauce.”
His South African roots have also had a lasting impact, and he hopes to be able to experiment with things like boerewors (traditional South African sausage), biltong (a form of dried, cured meat) and braais (barbecues) during the summer. 
All told, Gerald’s ultimate goal for The Bar & Conservatory is simple: to create “a place where locals and visitors alike know they can come for exceptional quality food and a memorable experience.” 
The Bar & Conservatory currently offers all-day dining for hotel guests and visitors on Mondays and Tuesdays, and bar snacks and drinks seven days a week. From Wednesday to Sunday, guests enjoy breakfast prepared by The Bar & Conservatory team, and guests and visitors can reserve dinner at the renowned Henrock, Simon Rogan’s relaxed Michelin Plate restaurant on site. Last but certainly not least, a highlight of the week is Henrock’s renowned Sunday lunch, which is available to both guests and visitors. 
Contact the Linthwaite House Guest Liaison team for more information and to secure your reservation.


Leeucollection blog - The Bar & Conservatory at Linthwaite House Welcomes New Head Chef Gerald van der Walt 1
Leeucollection blog - The Bar & Conservatory at Linthwaite House Welcomes New Head Chef Gerald van der Walt 2
Leeucollection blog - The Bar & Conservatory at Linthwaite House Welcomes New Head Chef Gerald van der Walt 3