One of the region’s top female chefs is having a busy month – having reached the final stages of the prestigious National Chef of the Year competition, Nat Tallents then had to turn her attention to preparing for the opening of The Box Kitchen & Bar in Plymouth, where she is executive chef.
The Kitchen & Bar, which was due to open in May but was put on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic, will now launch this Friday, with an exclusive preview weekend of The Box all-weather attraction for a select few Plymouth residents, before opening to the public on Tuesday, September 29.
“Everything came along at once – but I actually like working under pressure and the work we are doing at The Box is hugely exciting,” says Nat, referring to the new destination venue which is part of the £50 million cultural and heritage attraction based in Plymouth.
The Kitchen & Bar is a major component of The Box, which in itself is part of the Mayflower 400 commemorations.
The museum – which has been designed to celebrate Plymouth’s rich historic and cultural make-up – is part of an ambitious regeneration programme, backed by £1 billion of projects in the pipeline for Plymouth.
Nat, who was one of only five women to go through to the 2020 National Chef of the Year semi-finals this summer, says The Box Kitchen & Bar will provide diners with a safe, socially-distanced setting to enjoy a selection of dishes that embrace local and fresh ingredients from around the region.
The new space will feature a vast back-lit bar, floor-to-ceiling windows and historical figureheads that have been retrieved from a flotilla of Royal Naval ships suspended from the ceiling.
“We’ve worked hard to ensure the venue is as clean and safe as possible, with every system we can put in place for the guests’ and team’s safety,” said Nat, who previously was executive chef at the well-known Plume of Feathers at Mitchell in Cornwall.
“This is a very different venue to anywhere else where I’ve cooked – very different, indeed, to anything else you’ll find in Plymouth,” she added.
“The food at The Box will be fairly simple, relaxed and colourful and the whole thing will have a gallery vibe. Which means it’s going to be fun and playful, but not over-complicated or pretentious in any way.
“We can seat 100 people at a time and for me this is a very different experience because we will be catering for all sorts of people – school children, pensioners, everyone. You are hitting every single market with a major gallery space like this.
“What’s even more exciting is that, come November, we will be launching our evening service which will be a whole new experience within itself.
“We want to create a destination dining venue, where people are drawn in by the quality and exclusivity of our menu, curated wine and drinks list to match, and the unique opportunity of sharing that experience during the twilight hours onwards.”
“There’s a lot of pressure,” she admitted. “When visitors come into The Box, we’ll be the first thing they see – so there is a lot of anticipation around what we’ll be doing here.
“The place has changed so much over the past few weeks after a lot of work and sleepless nights, but now it has reached the exciting stage.
“When I first saw it in January and it was just bare walls – now it’s amazing! There are tables under ships’ figureheads – even the cutlery we’ll be using has the feel of sunken treasure.
“For weeks it’s been all hands on deck – yesterday I was climbing behind the bar trying to wire up the tills. I’ve done a couple of openings in the past, but this is by far the biggest.”
The Box Kitchen & Bar will be open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 to 5pm. For more information, visit www.theboxplymouth.com.