There is no greater thing in life than the love of food.
It can evoke memories from childhood dinners to pub lunches with the family.
It can comfort you in times of distress and elevate enjoyment in times of happiness.
My love for food began with Pub lunches on many family countryside jaunts, homemade Cumberland coiled sausages over buttery mashed potatoes with caramelized onion gravy, overlooking God’s country, something that became even better as I came of age and was able to enjoy it with a pint of local ale.
I grew up in the North of England, in a town called Hexham, surrounded by castles and countryside, where the farms and the land cultivated the cuisine of the area.
The co-dependency of this union was inspirational! I started out intrigued by baking; making my first singin’ hinnies and local cheese scones with my mum. The satisfaction I felt on creating something so simple yet so amazing out of a few humble ingredients started an intense desire to learn more. I was excited. I trained in my local school, but my real training began when I was fortunate to work alongside a young French Michelin-trained Executive Chef, Jerome Cogne. He worked with me alone, side by side for four months solid pushing me and molding me into the Chef I desperately wanted to be. After two years with him, it was time to try something new, so I worked as pastry chef in my next job with free reign to experiment.
I reached my quarter life crisis with fear of staying in my hometown forever and made the biggest decision of my life: a move to the U.S to work under Graham Fox’s tutelage at The Fearrington House Restaurant.
There I was promoted from Line Cook to Junior Sous within two years, working through every station and dealing with all Food Purveyors to get the best products at the best prices.
Half a year later Graham Fox Stepped down and moved back across the pond, and Chef Colin Bedford moved up from Exec Sous to take the reigns.
I worked closely with Colin closely and, upon his departure was rewarded with his former position
There with the help of many chefs we took the Fearrington House to a five stars rating, retain our five diamonds and gained the Relais Grand Chef Award. The restaurant has thrived as has the village winning numerous accolades including being in Open Table’s top 10 Restaurants in the U.S and Conde Naste Best Destination Wedding Venue.
Fine Dining is art; it is beauty and above all the most exquisite cuisine in the best surroundings with the best service. It is an orchestra, each person playing their part at the right place and the right time to forge an experience like no other, to ensure guests delighted with something more than a just a meal. I come from a place where collaboration is more important than dictatorship,
I believe in everyone having a voice and in hearing those voices and taking the best of them to make improvements all round. The unity of the kitchen and the service teams are vital, as food is nothing without exceptional service, that means a total teamwork between both parties to ensure a proper service. “We are all one Team” is a saying I tell all of our staff. My all time favorite is “A problem shared is a problem halved”, these sayings are to ensure that we act cordially and communicate appropriately. Gone are the days when effective kitchens are ruled with angry chefs and pans flying, belittling people in front of their colleagues, Chefs are evolving, and I want to keep it that way. I want to nurture young talent to follow suit and to leave arrogance behind. Every day we are learning, and that’s the way it needs to be in essence we are all Commis chefs, craving the next thing.
The Ashby Inn & Restaurant exists as a tenant to history while offering a place for guests to dine and rest amidst the beauty and tranquility of the Virginia countryside. Situated at the cross-sections of route fifty and seventeen in the charming village of Paris, Ashby Inn consists of three acres of landscaped grounds. Providing a view of Paris Mountain, Ashby Gap, and Sky Meadows State Park; the historic Ashby Chapel; the historic one-room schoolhouse, now four bedrooms; and our organic garden. The inn itself includes a total of ten guest accommodations that vary in size and decor. The four rooms in the historic school house have wood burning fireplaces and private balconies.