top of page

Q&A with chef Alex Burtenshaw, executive chef of The Mirabelle at The Grand Hotel Eastbourne

Chef Alex Burtenshaw of The Mirabelle at The Grand Hotel Eastbourne

As Alex Burtenshaw – one of Sussex’s most longstanding chefs – takes over the kitchen at the two AA Rosette The Mirabelle restaurant at The Grand Hotel Eastbourne, Nick Mosley asks the questions…

How did you get into the hospitality industry?

I’ve always enjoyed cooking from a young age. My maternal grandmother was a good cook –you’d never leave hungry and that led me to experiment at home by myself.

My parents had a well-used cookbook by iconic British food writer Marguerite Patten, which was full of classic recipes from apple crumble to old-school chilli con carne. I found a copy in a charity shop years later and I still have it in my collection now.

Growing up, I watched Keith Floyd and later Rick Stein – both inspired me to travel to Europe and discover amazing food.

When I left school, I had kitchen assistant and porter roles but didn’t want to commit to hospitality as a full-time career. I was aware of how much that would have impacted my time as a teenager enjoying the nightlife of Brighton in the early noughties!

After going to university, I went to work at a private school where head chef took me under his wing and I’ve never looked back.

You’ve worked in some of the best hotel kitchens in Sussex?

My career in hotels really took off when I arrived at Hotel du Vin in Brighton in 2013. Then head chef Rob Carr took me on as a demi chef de partie, and in less than three years I had become sous chef under the subsequent head chef Guillaume Rambaud. It was incredibly busy with the restaurant and functions but the long days and very hard work were very rewarding.

Guillaume introduced me to Andy Vitez, who was about to be promoted to head chef of The Restaurant at Drakes and was looking to build a new team. Drakes had a fantastic reputation built by Andrew Mackenzie. My time at Drakes was brilliant and I learnt so much there; it really took my skills and the way I thought about food to another level.

From there, I moved along Brighton seafront again to Harbour Hotel on Kings Road. It really was a baptism of fire for my first head chef position. I launched a new restaurant concept there – working closely with chef director John Pollard. Sadly, my time there was interrupted by Covid and I left in the midst of the lockdown due to my family and I moving out of Brighton.

After moving to the Eastbourne area, I launched the restaurant at Port Hotel. It was really tough during lockdown but my sous chef and I helped the owners put the finishing touches to the hotel – not just the kitchen – everything. It was great fun!

You’re now executive chef at The Mirabelle at The Grand Hotel Eastbourne, one of Sussex’s most famous fine dining restaurants?

I joined in September of this year, but I hadn’t visited previously as guest. I was – of course – aware of its status as a two AA Rosette restaurant and the history of The Grand Hotel Eastbourne as a whole.

I love classical cooking and most dishes – no matter how contemporary they are – start with a classical element whether a sauce or a technique. It’s then that some ingredients can be adapted to something less classical and that’s what allows me as a chef to be creative. It’s just working out how far to take it, depending on who the current clientele is or who you’re trying to attract to the restaurant with menus.


As I get older, within an established hotel restaurant, I believe it’s important to give people what they want, not necessarily just what I want as a chef. If you know your customers and you have regulars, you must respect that. We sell a lot of fish at Mirabelle so I always have two fish courses on the menu. If you have a menu where people can’t decide what to have, then I think you’ve succeeded as a chef.

South coast fish and seafood is always on the menu at The Mirabelle at The Grand Hotel Eastbourne

Do you have any local and seasonable dishes planned for the coming months?

Seasonality is very important. We live in a world that wants everything all the time and it’s simply not sustainable.

Locality is intertwined with that too; making an effort to try to use farm shops and local businesses and producers as much as possible. On Mirabelle’s menu, I use a lot of Sussex cheeses; I’m a big fan of Nut Knowle Farm which produce lovely goat cheeses. I always try to get fish from local boats out of Newhaven from MCB Seafoods. Next year we have a best of Sussex event showcasing a range of producers.

When you’re not behind the stove, where do you like to dine and drink in Sussex?

I live rurally so I tend to frequent the many lovely pubs we have in East Sussex; a particular favourite is my local The Longman Inn in Wilmington that has a great chef doing some lovely food. The two most recent trips back to my old stomping ground of Brighton have been Bincho in Preston Street and The Chilli Pickle in Jubilee Square; they are two of my favourite places and are as good as ever.

The Mirabelle, The Grand Hotel Eastbourne, King Edward’s Parade, Eastbourne BN21 4EQ

01323 412 345 •


bottom of page