High Grange, set in two-and-a-half acres of woodland in Blackdown Hills in Dalwood, east Devon, will run fortnightly feast nights as well as serve Sunday lunches and weekend brunches for guests.
Feast nights will accommodate up to 20 people and will serve only local and seasonal food, including venison and rabbit from its grounds and fish and seafood from nearby Lyme Bay.
The first feast will take place on 1 February 2020 with dishes on the menu likely to include wild mallard liver pate with pickled Dalwood walnuts; salt roast carrot, yeast, celeriac and chestnut; Lyme Bay scallop and crab with sea vegetables and bisque; wild mallard suet pie, pink-roast crown with sprout tops; and burnt miso-ginger cream, walnut brittle and High Grange apples.
Mackay is a chef of more than 20 years and was the founder of Brompton Food Market and The Hour Glass in Kensington, which opened in 2015. He heads up the Borough Market Demo Kitchen and has taught cooking at The London Barbecue School.
He and his family left London in September this year to move to High Grange. Writing on its website, he says: “It’s been a leap of faith to leave the familiar life we had in London for a life unknown in east Devon but we’re really excited to see where it takes us.”
Mackay says he decided to open a venue serving regular feasts rather than a full-time restaurant in order to spend more time with his wife and three young children. "I have experience of running pubs and working 18-hour days and the reason for the move was to spend more time with the family. I don't want to be in the kitchen all the time anymore."
As well as feasts, the retreat will run cookery classes and also cater for events such as weddings. It will run three levels of cooking school; lessons for children; home cooking and dinner party cooking lessons in the farmhouse kitchen; and, when the weather permits, and outdoor cooking school where Mackay will teach cooking with a fire pit and asado grill.
High Grange currently has one room for accommodation but Mackay says that outbuildings will be converted into rooms as part of 'phase two'. He is also looking into building shepherd's huts or tree house rooms in the future.