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Tom Browning in the dining room at Lewtrenchard manor

In the Kitchen with... Tom Browning

Taste Buds talks to Head Chef Tom Browning about his experience and future plans at Lewtrenchard Manor

How long have you been a chef at Lewtrenchard?
I have worked here for the last six years. I started at Lewtrenchard as Chef de Partie and then worked my way up to Head Chef in the summer of 2018. I have spent my whole career in the West Country, working in various restaurants to get to where I am now. A stint at The Royal Clarence Hotel under Michael Caines gave me good experience, as did working for Tim Bouget at ODE in Shaldon, who taught me about sustainability.

What is your ethos?
I try to keep my food as simple as possible and use great quality ingredients. Sustainability is very important to me, as well as using local meat, fish and game. Food always tastes better when it is eaten as close as possible to where it is grown or reared.

Describe your cooking style in three words?
Honest, sustainable and clean.

What are your favourite dishes on the menu?
This changes so often, so it’s truly difficult to decide on just one. We have an excellent partridge dish on the menu right now, which is served with Mangalitza Black Pudding and Forest Fungi’s wild mushrooms. This celebrates great game and welcomes autumn perfectly.

Spring is also a great time. The kitchen garden starts to flourish, so we have some excellent fruit and vegetables to use. I particularly love using fresh asparagus, simply steamed and served with early summer truffle and quail’s egg. The asparagus is usually picked and onto a plate within an hour or two.

Which ingredient could you not live without, and why?
This varies so much with the time of year. I use a lot of great quality dairy from Devon, so I would have to say butter.

What’s the best part about being a chef in Devon?
The abundance of ingredients. Our local venison is the best I have eaten, and the fish from our waters is unrivalled.

Can you tell us about future plans for Lewtrenchard’s kitchen?
After a very difficult 2020, we are looking to make 2021 as progressive and consistent as possible. Hopefully, we will be able to arrange a couple of guest chef evenings, our popular Murder Mystery event in October, and our regular garden and history tours throughout the year.

What are the best and worst parts about being a chef?
Hands down, the best part of being a chef is the sense of camaraderie as you make your way through your career. I have made friends for life and even met my wife since working at Lewtrenchard Manor. Sometimes the hours can be long and arduous, but that just adds to the satisfaction when you have a restaurant full of happy customers.

Having the opportunity to spend my career so far in the West Country has been a blessing. I urge anyone, young or old, with a true passion for the hospitality industry to just try your hand at it. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Lewtrenchard Manor
Lewdown Okehampton
Devon EX20 4PN
01566 464072
www.lewtrenchard.co.uk

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