Emily pouring a cocktail

Emily Alexander

We meet Emily Alexander, the General Manager at the Jolly Sportsman pub in East Chiltington.

Emily shares insights into her role, the exciting events she has planned for the summer at this Sussex pub, and her own wedding plans at the award-winning Halisco in Brighton.

The Jolly Sportsman pub in East Chiltington. A shot from above

Tell us about your role at The Jolly Sportsman?

I take great pride in my role as the General Manager at The Jolly Sportsman and forever strive for a smooth running, creative thinking and quality driven environment.

My main focus is always on providing top-notch service with the support of my wonderful team.

Whether it’s greeting our regulars or making sure we go the extra mile to make our guests feel special on their birthday, I aim to make our guests feel valued and eager to come back.

rustic furniture and fireplace at The Jolly Sportsman

I’m constantly adapting to keep us ahead in this competitive industry, whether it’s with new engaging events or broadening our culinary horizons.
More than anything I draw immense satisfaction from seeing our guests enjoy their meals and their time with us here at The Jolly.

I’m proud of the role I play in creating lasting memories for our guests.

Tell us about a few of your events coming up this summer?

We have some very exciting events filling up our calendar year in 2024! Here’s a sneak peek at some of the upcoming events we have in store:

Wine Society – Broaden your viticultural knowledge every third Thursday of the month for an informal wine masterclass from 6pm – 8pm, sample a curated selection of wines paired with nibbles & hosted by an expert.

Cocktail Masterclass – Hosted by myself, we are excited to announce our new seasonal masterclasses, learning the art of balance, flavour pairing & presentation, as you prepare three signature cocktails, suitable for enthusiasts & novices alike. The next class will be milk-clarification themed, between 6pm – 8pm, 11th July.

Emily pouring a cocktail

Sugrue Experience – Start a guided tour at Sugrue south Downs Vineyard, followed by a Jolly hosted walk back to The Jolly Sportsman, where you will experience a Sugrue paired wine tasting dinner with renowned wine maker Dermot Sugrue. 3pm – 8pm, 8th August.

What do you like best about the team of people you are working with?

I’m incredibly grateful for my team and their passion for what they do every day, whether it’s in the kitchen making delicious dishes, or serving our guests with an effortless friendliness.

They’re dedicated to ensuring our guests leave happy, often going above and beyond their duties.

What sets them apart is their sense of camaraderie— as we are all well aware, hospitality can be a tough gig and service can be immeasurably stressful.

Regardless of the stresses of the day, it is their friendship and genuine care for each other within the team, as well as the relationships we foster with our guests that really shines through every day.

I couldn’t ask for a better group to work with.

We see you did very well in this year’s BRAVO Awards. What special touches are there that add to the whole experience at the Jolly Sportsman?

It’s the little things that count, we endeavour to provide personal touches for guests, whether they are returning, celebrating a birthday, or asking for a recommendation. Our front of house team has an uncanny ability to recognise returning guests and make them feel welcome.
We try to support as many local farmers & artisans, ensuring the quality of our produce & fostering as many community connections as possible .

No matter where you find yourself within The Jolly Sportsman, our aim is for you to feel at home and comfortable, whatever the season.

Whether that is getting toasty by the fire in winter, or enjoying the vibrant display of tulips blanketing our garden in spring, we strive to create an atmosphere of cosiness and delight. Our hope is that every visit leaves you with a sense of comfort, and the unmistakable feeling of being welcomed into our wonderful venue.

For customers that haven’t been before, can you give us more information about the style of your food?

Our menus highlight the best of each season’s flavours, often celebrating unique pairings such as our Miso & Banoffee Parfait, Banana Chips, Earl Grey & Date Puree, Brulée Banana, which is one of our new staff favourites.

Favourite dishes on the menu?

One dish on our current menu that I personally can’t get enough of is the Lamb Rump with Wild Garlic, Tenderstem Broccoli, Sour Cherry Jus & Confit Ratte Potato.

The combination of succulent lamb cooked to perfection, paired with the vibrant flavours of wild garlic sauce and the tender crunch of broccoli, is just so delicious!

And let’s not forget about those confit Ratte potatoes — they add another layer of richness that marries nicely with the lamb. It’s a combination of flavours and textures that never fails to leave me completely satisfied. Plus, as an Aussie – I can never forgo a good bit of lamb! If you’re looking for a dish that embodies the essence of dining at The Jolly Sportsman, this is it.

Which venues in Brighton does Emily Alexander enjoy eating at?

Halisco is a very special place for me, it’s one of my favourite spots in Brighton. This Mexican small plates restaurant has a charm and vibrancy that’s hard to resist. The menu is always interesting, and the dishes are always exceptionally executed – and they make an absolutely banging Marg, my go to is the hibiscus margarita!

My husband and Head Chef at The Jolly Sportsman, Sam Gordon, and I love it so much that we even chose to have our wedding breakfast there!

What’s your favourite or go to meal?

When it comes to making or ordering food, I love a good comfort meal – pancakes, dumplings, mac and cheese are all very high up on my list.
I have earned a bit of a reputation amongst the team as being a Yorkshire pudding fiend, and the Yorkies at The Jolly are absolutely ginormous.

If we still have some left on Sunday evening, I take as many home as I can carry.

They make a great brunch (not dissimilar to a dutch baby pancake), and Sam and I will stuff them with eggs, sausage, gravy, and any other leftovers we might have to hand on Monday morning. I highly recommend trying this one, especially to our fellow hospitality workers!

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