Sienna Restaurant in Dorchester was Dorset’s only Michelin Starred restaurant after it was awarded in 2010. Previous owners Russell and Eléna Brown decided that they didn’t want to renew the lease and the treasured restaurant was to cease trading in April 2015.
Marcus Wilcox, a former Masterchef: The Professionals semi-finalist was working at the Rose and Crown in Trent near Sherborne when this opportunity arose. He was only 26 years old at the time and understood the big shoes he had to fill, but relished the opportunity and after only a few months closed, he re-opened Sienna Restaurant to the delight of diners across Dorset.
We caught up with Marcus when he introduced our latest Dorset Food & Drink Guide, we were keen to know how he’s been getting on and what he felt was the key to his success.
“Growing up in the market town of Sherborne, I was aware of the abundance of incredible produce available to those of us lucky enough to call Dorset home. I first started learning my craft on the Specialised Chef Scholarship at Bournemouth & Poole College, and then worked in London for eight years. During this time I knew I wanted to return to my roots to take advantage of our fine local ingredients while bringing a bit of London’s dynamic culinary landscape back to Dorset.”
“Recently, Dorset’s food scene has come on in leaps and bounds. It seems to be reflective of a wider trend across the whole of the UK, whereby diners are becoming more food-educated and are keen to know what produce goes into dishes, and in particular where it comes from. This has really pushed chefs and restaurants to up our game in terms of sourcing the finest local ingredients available. We at Sienna keep our dishes as local and seasonal as possible, sourcing all of our ingredients within a 40-mile radius. The beauty of working in a place like Dorset is that we are able to support local producers without compromising on quality. The coast yields what I consider to be the UK’s best seafood, such as beautifully sweet Portland crab and Lyme Bay scallops, while our countryside’s lush pastures produce excellent crops, as well as succulent beef and lamb. There are also opportunities for foraging wild garlic, elderfl ower, hazelnuts and rich coastal pickings such as razor clams, samphire and sea vegetables. Dorset is home to some fantastic farmers’ markets, which offer a plethora of high-quality produce, like those in Bridport and Sherborne. The Dorset County Fair gives foodies the opportunity to chat to, and learn from, talented local producers. These sorts of events are great at making people more aware of what’s available on our doorstep. It’s important to appreciate and celebrate the local suppliers that take time and effort to produce amazing ingredients.”
“I’m really looking forward to seeing what the year ahead will bring to Dorset’s culinary scene. With our foodie status expanding rapidly, there’s no shortage of exciting restaurants to try.”