A Masterclass with Our Top Chef

Missing Masterchef? Bored of Fish and Chips? Want to impress your friends with an unctuous dessert but don’t know your mille-feuille from your macaroons? Don’t despair; we have the head chef Marc Mottershead on hand to guide you through two simple yet delicious recipes from his extensive repertoire.


A winning team for years to come- Marc and Bev in 1995 (left) and today (right)

Marc has worked as head chef at University House since 1995, preparing and serving the finest locally sourced ingredients to an array of stars and celebrated alumni: Judi Dench, Alan Bennett, Melvyn Bragg and the Olympic-winning Brownlee brothers to name but a few. Our Head of Catering and Conferences, Bev Kenny, can still remember the menu that Marc served up in the Invention Test” of his interview (his Lemon Tart was to die for”). His longevity is a testament to his skill and ability to create menus that are classic yet contemporary, catering to any delegates’ dietary requirements.

The seven rooms at University House have recently been refurbished with a contemporary decor and are extremely flexible; ideal for VIP meetings, formal sit down meals and receptions.

The standard of the rooms and high level of customer service, linked to superb catering, have given the venue a first-class reputation.

Marc may be a Manchester United fan (not so much these days”, he says, and you can see why), but we won’t hold that against him when he gifts us recipes like the two below on a regular basis. So when your parents/in-laws/friends/spouses/colleagues/guests on Come Dine with Me run out of superlatives for your culinary creations, you will know who to thank. But don’t be afraid to take the accolades and credit, after all, you did the leg work.

Grilled Sea Bass with Sauce Vierge

Perfect for the Indian Spring” we are having at the moment, enjoy with a good Sauvignon Blanc and good company. Serves 4.

Cooking time: 30 mins


50g melted Butter
4 Sustainably Sourced Sea Bass Fillets
100g seeded and finely chopped Cherry Tomatoes
2 tsp Capers
Juice of ½ Fairtrade Lemon
1 finely chopped Shallot (Red Onion can be used as alternative)
100ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Good handful torn Basil and chopped Chives to garnish

  1. Line a grill pan with foil and brush lightly with butter. Brush the Sea Bass with butter and season. Lay on the foil skin-side up.
  2. Put the tomatoes and shallot (or onion) in a pan with the capers, lemon juice and oil. Season.
  3. Grill the Sea Bass for 5-7 minutes (depending on thickness of the fillets) under a hot grill until just cooked and the skin is starting to brown. Meanwhile, warm the sauce through for 2 minutes then stir in half of the torn basil leaves. Lift the Bass onto warmed plates using a fish slice and spoon over the sauce. Serve with steamed new potatoes, dressed with a little butter and the remaining basil and chives. Season and serve.

Chef’s top tip: when you have chopped onions, garlic or hot peppers, wash your hands with cold water, rather than hot. This will stop the flavour cooking” onto your hands and intensifying the smell.

Super Gooey Chocolate Brownie

Everybody claims to have the perfect Brownie recipe; well we have the best of the best. This is perfect for birthday parties or as a dessert to the Sea Bass (serve with mascarpone ice-cream). But its best kept for a lazy weekend with nothing to do but make coffee and watch box sets. Serves 12 greedy people with healthy appetites and a sweet tooth.

Cooking time: 50 mins


350g Caster Sugar
6 Eggs
350g melted Butter
125g best Cocoa Powder, sieved
125g sieved Flour
350g dark Fairtrade Chocolate
100g chopped Hazelnuts (or any nut that tickles your fancy)
100g White Chocolate, broken into chunks

  1. Crack the eggs into a large bowl and whisk. Gradually add the caster sugar and whisk until combined. Then add the melted butter and again whisk until combined.
  2. Continuing to whisk the mixture, steadily add the flour and cocoa. Ensure that you do not add too much at once or the mixture will become lumpy.
  3. Melt the dark chocolate, either in a bowl over a pan of boiling water or in the microwave (check regularly if using the microwave as you do not want the chocolate to burn). Stir this into the mixture.
  4. Add the nuts and white chocolate and stir through for an even distribution. Transfer to a large baking tray (around 40x25x4cm) or several smaller trays which have been lined with greaseproof paper, smoothing the mixture into the corners of the tray with a spatula.
  5. Cook at gas mark 5 (180-190 Celsius) for 30 minutes. Pull the shelf out a bit and gently shake the tray. If the brownie wobbles in the middle, it’s not quite done, so slide it back in. You want the centre to bee moist and gooey but not wet, so there will be a glossy crust”. If it is not fully cooked allow up to 10 more minutes, checking after 5.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tray. Slice while still in the tray, remove and transfer to an airtight container.

Chef’s top tip: If you want to make some to hide away for a special occasion, it’s useful to know that they’ll keep in an airtight container for a good two weeks and in the freezer for up to a month.

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We will be happy to help you with your enquiry.