12 ISSUES FOR £24 Subscribe to Hampshire Life today click here

Andrew Du Bourg on family, mistakes and chasing Michelin stardom

PUBLISHED: 10:59 29 March 2017 | UPDATED: 14:56 04 April 2017

Hampshire Life Food & Drink Awards Chef of the Tear Andrew du Bourg

Hampshire Life Food & Drink Awards Chef of the Tear Andrew du Bourg

Umbala Photography

After winning the coveted Chef of the Year title at the Hampshire Life Food and Drink Awards, Andrew Du Bourg talks to Emma Caulton

Congratulations to the talented Andrew Du Bourg, chef/proprietor of The Elderflower, Lymington, who walked away from Hampshire Life’s Food and Drink Awards 2016 with an award for the third consecutive year. This time it is Chef of the Year. In 2015 it was Hampshire Menu of the Year; the year before that it was two awards - Hampshire Menu of the Year and Newcomer of the Year. He is, as they say, one to watch.

The Elderflower is well established in foodie bibles Michelin Guide, Harden’s and The Good Food Guide, which has been effusive, describing the restaurant with rooms as ‘an asset to Lymington’ and commenting that Andrew is ‘working extremely hard to put good food on the plates of his customers’. And he does work hard. To pile up such a splendour of awards does not come without effort, determination and passion. Don’t think for one second it has been easy.

He and wife Marjolaine, in charge of front of house, opened The Elderflower in March, 2014. The ambition had always been to open their own restaurant, perfecting the dining experience with skilled, imaginative cooking and relaxed, yet efficient service. However, behind the realisation of that dream they experienced a bit of a nightmare.

But back to the beginning. Andrew’s credentials are impressive. He attended the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Specialised Chefs Course at Bournemouth and Poole College, before going on to work for London’s best. This included The Goring, where he volunteered to work at Clarence House, assisting with state banquets and fundraising dinners, and working for Chris Galvin of The Wolseley, Phil Howard of The Square and Pascal Aussignac at Club Gascon, where he was head chef. Such experiences gave him an understanding of technique and ingredients and inspired his innovative and skilful approach.

Marjolaine’s background is not dissimilar. Born in the Poitou-Charentes region of France, she trained in Art de la Cuisine et Arts de la Table at a catering college in La Rochelle, very much the equivalent of the one in Bournemouth. This was followed by employment in establishments in Switzerland and France. Keen to learn English she moved to London: “It was meant to be two years and that was ten years ago. I met Andrew two months before I was due to leave. Andrew was at Club Gascon and I was Food and Beverage Manager at Cellar Gascon.” Andrew smiles: “It was love over the hot plates.”

Having fallen for the Bournemouth and Poole area as well as Marjolaine, Andrew was keen to head back this way: “We were planning for the future, and I thought it would be a great place to bring up a family. Chewton Glen was looking for a head chef, so I jumped at the chance.”

They moved to the New Forest after marrying in summer, 2011. Andrew had, however, “A bee in my bonnet. A creative desire. My ambition had always been to have my own restaurants.”

They spent 18 months searching for premises, looking around Poole and Christchurch. Then the search shifted to Lymington. They had just missed out on an opportunity on the High Street when The Bluebird came on the market, a 200-year-old, Grade II listed building on cobbled Quay Hill, and so-called as it had been established by Georgina Campbell, who named it after the cars and boats her father, Donald, piloted to speed records on land and water.

They snapped it up. Particularly as, Andrew recalls, “When I was working at Chewton Glen we met with friends at The Bluebird and said then if this place was available we’d have it…”

Even more curiously, Andrew even has a photograph of himself, aged 17, standing outside The Bluebird with his family the Christmas before the turn of The Millennium. It sounds perfect. It wasn’t.

“It was a year of firsts: first restaurant, first child [Annabelle, now three]; we decided to have a child before opening the restaurant or we thought we’d never do it!

“It was also the first time I had done a restaurant opening. All the places I had worked before had been well established. I came from a place where we had a marketing team and PR was easy to come by. We have learned to do marketing ourselves, and accounts. When you are an employee you don’t have to fill out VAT returns and you don’t think about the hidden costs.”

They remember wondering: “What have we done?” So, what would they have done differently? Few things, but one of them would have been more market research.

“One thing we didn’t take into consideration was footfall. We were buying with our hearts rather than our heads. Lots of locals don’t come down Quay Hill where there are a lot of touristy shops, so they were not very likely to eat at The Elderflower.”

At first they had more staff than diners, 12 in all. Quickly they reappraised the situation and did some market research. “That first summer we did a lot of soul searching and we found out what Lymington wanted. We listened to our customers and they helped guide us to where we are now” says Andrew.

“We introduced petit assiettes, basically British tapas, as I wanted to show people that this place was really affordable. We also developed the bespoke tasting menu, which has become popular. There are some serious foodies around here!”

The customers rewarded Andrew and Marjolaine by nominating them for awards. “Every year we’ve been entered for at least three Hampshire Life Food and Drink Awards and come away with at least one, which has given us something to shout about.

“By the first Christmas everything just clicked and since then we’ve gone from strength to strength.”

Andrew is not one to sit still. At the time of talking, he has just heard that the AA had awarded the restaurant its third rosette.

“I am very ambitious. I remember Gordon Ramsay bursting onto the restaurant scene and taking over London; I thought if he can do it, so can I. I wanted to be head chef by the age of 27 [he was] and have my own restaurant by the time I was 30; in the end I was 32. But I’m on track for my first Michelin Star.”

The seasonal menu changes every month and uses the best local produce, such as lamb from Lisa’s Larder, “You would struggle to find any lamb better than Lisa’s Larder’s lamb.”

On weekends there’s a champagne breakfast: “Being us we like to make it the best, so we smoke our own trout and haddock, and for our full English we cure and smoke our own bacon, make our own sausages and prepare our own baked beans. The reason we go that extra mile is so that we can pump in more flavour and less salt and sugar.”

They try to grow as much as they can on a roof garden – mainly herbs, strawberries and edible flowers. They’ve established a Compost Club that helps reduce waste and rewards customers. Andrew’s involved with the community, helping to inspire the next generation of food lovers by going into local schools and showing them how to make dishes such as apple tart.

Ambitions have shifted, with more of a focus on family and lifestyle. At weekends they go out foraging, Annabelle is often in the kitchen beside her father, or you may find the family crabbing on Lymington’s quayside.

However, don’t think for one second Andrew has taken his eye off the main prize – that Michelin Star. He even mentions being in the top 100 restaurants worldwide.

He smiles: “We’re in a very good position now and our competition is watching us.”


Eating out in Hampshire - Best restaurants - Whether you’re looking for fine dining, pub food, a romantic meal for 2 or a taste of something from further afield, eating out in Hampshire really has something for everyone. Here’s our guide to the best local restaurants and pubs


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hampshire visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hampshire staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hampshire account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from People

Wed, 16:15

Some of Hampshire’s best known personalities have revealed what they most love about the county. Here, we compile some quotes from our interviews over the years

Read more
Tue, 10:48

The recruitment of women into the Royal Navy is now the norm, 100 years after the formation of the Women’s Royal Naval Service. There have been choppy waters along the way though, as Viv Micklefield discovers on a visit to Portsmouth

Read more
Monday, June 12, 2017

Who better to tell us about Jane Austen on the 200th anniversary of her death than a writer who’s often been compared to her? Faith Eckersall caught up with our own Joanna Trollope, ahead of her talk about Austen at the Winchester Festival

Read more
Friday, June 9, 2017

On Thursday 8 June 2017, the country will begin voting to elect the Parliament of the United Kingdom. We’ve put together a list of Hampshire constituencies and candidates

Read more
Tuesday, May 30, 2017

They’re famous, successful and happily married to each other. What more could actors Sarah Parish and James Murray want? Try a £4m children’s A&E unit in Southampton. Faith Eckersall hears about the motivation behind their mission

Read more
Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Sir Ben Ainslie is one of our greatest living sportsmen, used to striking gold on his own in a boat. But he’s now embarked on a team quest to win The America’s Cup on behalf of the nation and, as Paul Hudson discovers, technology is driving the bid

Read more
Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Hidden away in the centre of Eastleigh is an artistic powerhouse that started with a ‘crazily brave’ idea and is now a thriving creative hub. But it wouldn’t have got off the ground without backing from on high, as Faith Eckersall discovered

Read more
Wednesday, April 26, 2017

As another appalling incident on our roads hits the headlines, we are once again reminded that speed kills. But this isn’t a new message, so why is it still falling on deaf ears?

Read more
Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The first Winchester Portrait Exhibition, which runs until May 2, can now be added to the city’s overflowing cultural calendar. Sandra Smith meets the man who got it off the ground, with a little help from his friends

Read more
Monday, April 24, 2017

Animal, vegetable or mineral, everything is fair game for the artistic eye of the modest Sandra Binney. A hairdresser by trade, she meets Sandra Smith

Read more
Thursday, April 20, 2017

When it comes to dream jobs, Kerry Witt has hit the naughty but nice jackpot. The pastry chef turned New Forest chocolatier spills the (cacao) beans on her confections to Faith Eckersall

Read more
Wednesday, April 12, 2017

He’s a giant of stage and screen, but Jeremy Irons tells Bernard Bale he could have joined the circus, if only the accommodation had been up to scratch

Read more
Monday, April 10, 2017

Those teenage years can be difficult, particularly for the parents. What do you do, for instance, when they just ignore you? When it happened to Kim Whitby, she entered an art competition and hasn’t looked back since

Read more
Wednesday, March 29, 2017

After winning the coveted Chef of the Year title at the Hampshire Life Food and Drink Awards, Andrew Du Bourg talks to Emma Caulton

Read more
A+ South & South West

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad
Hampshire Life Application Link

Local Business Directory

Hampshire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area

Property Search

Search For a Car In Your Area