© Ed Ovenden
Meet the Chefs
Over the years, Chef Ash Hamilton and his team have worked hard to bring original concepts to Brixham including modern brunch and lunch, supper clubs and their famous #donutporn whilst maintaining a laid back welcoming vibe steeped in the team’s love for rock music.
Now a Devon staple, The Curious Kitchen (‘TCK’) has won multiple awards and received rave press and public acclaim due to its high standards of food and drink but also for its community input including Ash’s Cooking with Ash online series where he teaches how to take a £25 budget and feed a family of 4 for 5 days (lunch and dinner).
“I founded a catering event business that makes life time memories on long tables. One of 7 kids, I grew up around long tables and conversation. My career has always been motivated by the maternal instinct in cooking. I have worked with the likes of Ottolenghi, Honey & Co, Jamie Oliver and Berber & Q. They are more importantly now my friends. My businesses challenge and disrupt the hospitality sector and our Canteen concept is going to change the world.”
Ben Quinn is known for his flavour-drenched, colourful food – often cooked over live fire – served to the centre of communal tables guaranteed to be packed with an appreciative crowd of food lovers. Ben dishes out ‘experience dining’ with all the creativity, flare and memorability which that lofty terms implies; he is a force to be reckoned with and not just for his culinary skills.
Ben worked at top restaurants, including Fifteen Cornwall, and as a freelance consultant before deciding to take a non-traditional career path in the hospitality industry. He co-founded Woodfired Canteen which, in a few short but intense years, has built a cult following for hosting dinners in special locations – think spectacular clifftops, bucolic barns and idyllic gardens – eat your heart out Instagram!
Canteen, at Wheal Kitty Workshops near St Agnes, is HQ for Ben and his team. This industrial-style prep kitchen and shared workspace is open to the public every day and was described by Olive Magazine as Cornwall’s hottest new opening when it launched in 2017. Grab a mug of Origin Coffee, browse Ben’s favourite cookbooks and store cupboard ingredients, and enjoy a delicious plate of food while chatting to fellow foodies or catching up on your emails.
Beware though, spend too long with Ben and you will succumb to his infectious enthusiasm for positive change. “It’s about more than plates of food,” Ben explains, as he talks eloquently about building a catering company with a social purpose, putting people before profits. And it’s more than just talk – Woodfired Canteen have developed event concepts with the likes of ShelterBox, the RNLI, Cool Earth and CLIC Sargent.Passionate, articulate and ambitious, Ben is taking no prisoners in his bid to shake up the hospitality industry in Cornwall and beyond.
CHARLIE RAMSDALE & DAN TEAGE
Charlie Ramsdale and Daniel Teage took on the restaurant at Sharpham Vineyard in 2018, and ran it with great success for 4 years, until the relocation of the winery to Sandridge Barton.
David is the bread guru behind the wood-fired oven at Manna From Devon Cooking School, just over the river from Dartmouth in Kingswear.
As a passionate baker and co-owner of acclaimed cookery school, Manna from Devon, he teaches a variety of bread courses that can turn the most yeast-averse bakers into regular experts of all things leavened in no time.
David is Catering and Hospitality Lecturer at South Devon College and has recently been working with Shannon one of our upcoming Chefs and student of the college.
Having relocated to Dartmouth to become Manager at the Royal Castle Hotel and working with Nigel Way, David then moved on to be Manager at another Dartmouth hotel, The Dart Marina Hotel. Here for 5 years and also, in this time, becoming chairman of the chamber of trade and licensed victualers association, David and his wife Donna were incentivised to run their own place.
Leading them to run, over the next four years, the Duke of York pub in Tavistock and the Bradford Arms Hotel in Barnstaple.
Finally moving back to Dartmouth, David did a degree in hospitality, tourism and events management and subsequently joined South Devon College as a lecturer due to his extensive experience in the Industry.
South Devon College run many training programs to get our hospitality teams up-skilled and especially to boost our ‘Chef’ numbers!
Elly Wentworth, runner up of MasterChef The Professional 2016, is now the new Head Chef of The Angel – Taste of Devon here in Dartmouth.
Elly will be joining the team at The Angel this September after she wowed judges Marcus Wearing and Monica Galletti, who is still very much Elly’s mentor through her career.
It probably helped that Elly’s got no shortage of competition experience, though. She’s twice been named South West Young Professional Chef of the Year, also scooping the overall title the second time around. She was even taking part in the prestigious Royal Academy of Culinary Arts awards while she was competing on MasterChef (and went on to be one of only four chefs to be given an Award of Excellence).
With Elly as the Head Chef, The Angel will be looking to mentor female chefs in a very male dominated industry and with history of The Angel and the great success and leadership under Joyce Molineux they very much wanted the next chapter of The Angel to be led by one of the top female rising culinary stars
Felicity Cloake is the award-winning author of the Guardian’s long-running How to Make the Perfect column as well as six books, the most recent of which, One More Croissant for the Road, was shortlisted for the Fortnum and Mason food book of the year award. Her next book, Red Sauce Brown Sauce: A British Breakfast Odyssey is out in June, published by Mudlark. She loves kippers, is ambivalent about baked beans, and prefers her bacon sandwiches with marmalade and mustard.
Guy Singh-Watson has over the last 30 years taken Riverford from one man and a wheelbarrow delivering homegrown organic veg to friends, to a national veg box scheme delivering to around 80,000 customers a week. Tired of meetings, brands and the assumption that greed is our predominant motivation, Guy converted the business to employee ownership in 2018, using the proceeds to buy a small farm and return to growing organic vegetables.
In common with many of Riverford’s new co-owners, Guy is an advocate of using business to shape a part of the world, however small, to be kinder, more considerate and sustainable; more like the world most of us want to live in. His weekly newsletters connect people to the farm with refreshingly honest accounts of the trials and tribulations of producing organic food, and the occasional rant about farming, ethical and business issues he feels strongly about
Chef & Food Writer
Award winning chef and co-owner of Manna From Devon Cooking School with husband, David, trained at Leith’s School of Food & Wine. Love British Food said, “Holly Jones is a hugely talented cook with a great sense of humour”.
Softly spoken, she is immensely knowledgeable and passionate about local food and enjoys nothing more than sharing that passion with other people.
After graduating at university, Holly went on to join the Army. Upon leaving the military Holly moved back to the UK and enrolled at Leith’s Cooking School, after which she worked as a chef, demonstrator, TV presenter and food writer for, among other things, the nascent BBC Good Food website.
She and David, gravitated to Kingswear in Devon to do the catering at the Royal Dart Yacht Club where they built up a network of local growers, suppliers and fishermen. It was also where the idea of producing their own food and creating a cookery school using the ingredients from these local suppliers took shape. Holly and David started Manna From Devon in 2006.
Jamie Rogers brings you the the best of South Hams larder skilfully prepared, matched with the perfect wines and cocktails, bringing you a unforgettable dining experience.
He began his career in catering at the age of 12, washing dishes and helping with some prep at The Cricket Inn, Beesands. He later worked as an apprentice with the Tanner brothers at Tanners and the Barbican Kitchen before taking a position as sous chef at the Glassblowing House on the Barbican at Plymouth. After a spell at the South Sands Hotel at Salcombe, Jamie moved to Langdon Court Hotel in 2013, initially as sous chef but he was promoted to head chef in 2014.
Later that year, Jamie entered BBC MastcefChef reaching the quarter finals and after entering South West Chef of the Year three times, won the Professional Chef category in 2015, also being awarded the title of overall South West Chef of the Year.
After a short spell at The Wardroom in Salcombe, Jamie opened his own restaurant, Twenty Seven by Jamie Rogers, in Kingsbridge, Devon in the spring of 2018.
Chef & Food Writer
Jane started cooking whilst at Leeds University and decided to take it up as a career. She was lucky enough to work for George Perry Smith at Riverside in Helford, followed by a stint at The Carved Angel in Dartmouthunder Joyce Molyneux, whom she sites as one of her major influences.
Jane’s time at The River Café in London also gave her invaluable experience and started her love of all things Italian. After working in various London establishments Jane went “off Piste “to the South Pacific where she worked and lived for 7 years.
On her return she started working for Riverford, first setting up the staff canteen, then local school meals and finally was responsible for the style of food and service at the Field Kitchen along with Sam.
Jane also wrote the recipes for the two Riverford Farm Cook books – the first of which gained two Guild of Food Writers awards.
Jane is now living in Kingsbridge with her son David, when she’s not in Puglia!
Chef & Food Writer
Celebrated chef, restaurateur and food writer Mark Hix is known for his original take on British gastronomy.
Mark is frequently lauded as one of Britain’s most eminent restaurateurs with an unrivalled knowledge of ingredients with provenance. He is an award-winning author and food writer with 12 cookbooks to his name, the latest of which, Hooked, regales stories of fishing from his childhood through to the present day. Previously a regular contributor to City AM and GQ, Mark was previously the food writer for The Independent on Saturday for 14 years. He now has a regular column in The Telegraph, Dorset Magazine and Marshwood Vale and a weekly cookery show on Lyme Bay Radio.
After 17 years with Caprice Holdings, he left his Chef Director role in 2007 to open HIX Restaurants which spread across London’s West-end and City as well as his native Dorset, until they closed in 2020 as a result of Covid-19
Mark opened The Oyster & Fish House in Lyme Regis in July 2020 as well as launching his HIX Oyster & Fish Truck in Morcombelake, selling wet fish and seafood from Lyme Bay Reserve fishermen. He opened The Fox Inn pub in Corscombe in December 2020 which focuses on local meat and game dishes with it’s own Kitchen Garden supplying the chefs with fresh vegetables and herbs every day.
Mark received an MBE for his services to hospitality in the New Years’ Honours list 2017.
Chef & Food Writer
Matt presents Food Unwrapped on Channel 4. Matt, Jimmy Doherty and Kate Quilton, present the food and science series that travels the world to lift the lid on what’s really in the food we eat. He is the lead presenter of Saturday Kitchen on BBC1, along with John Torode. This 90-minute cookery show is broadcast live on Saturday mornings and is a well-established favourite on the BBC.
Matt has always loved cooking, so when he was unable to further his ambition of a career in the RAF, he returned to his first love – Food. Having completed a diploma course in London with Leith’s School of Food & Wine, Matt Tebbutt set his sights on some of the best restaurants in the UK, with a view to acquiring the breadth of experience that would set him up to run his own successful restaurant. A true baptism of fire followed in the form of a traineeship with renowned Michelin starred chef, Marco Pierre White, working at The Oak Room and then The Criterion. Matt later moved to the kitchens of Chez Bruce, working under the tutelage of Bruce Poole, master of classic French food and leading advocate of affordable excellence. Working at Clarke’s, Sally Clarke’s Kensington restaurant, Matt was exposed to the art of bread making at one of the most skilled bakeries in the UK.
One of his strongest influences, clearly evident in his recipes and menus is Alastair Little, pioneer of the non-stuffy, high-quality eatery and renowned for revolutionary freshness and flavour. Matt worked with Alastair at his Lancaster Road and Soho restaurants, celebrated for its no-nonsense British cooking, with a Northern Italian twist. Matt is a passionate exponent of Modern British cooking, using only the freshest, seasonal, locally sourced ingredients within honest recipes designed to highlight the quality of those ingredients.
He owned and ran The Foxhunter, an award-winning restaurant in Monmouthshire, for thirteen years until 2015. Here, the daily-changing menu featured an exciting range of wild and foraged foods from the local countryside and sea-shore. He is now a consultant for bars and restaurants including his new venture Schpoons & Forx in the Hilton hotel, Bournemouth.
Matt presented Market Kitchen with Rachel Allen, Tom Parker-Bowles, Amanda Lamb and Matthew Fort. This UKTV food show was an audience favourite for 5 years. It was followed by Market Kitchen’s Big Adventure. Matt also appeared in the BBC productions Great British Menu, Great British Food Revival and Great British Waste Menu. He is a regular contributor to Waitrose Kitchen magazine and other food publications and he has co-presented several cookery shows on the Food Network with Lisa Faulkner. In July 2013 he hosted the cookery demonstrations at Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s Coronation celebrations.
Chef, Food Writer
“Everything that is great about British cooking, growing, harvesting, catching, eating and drinking is represented here for the four wonderful days of the Dartmouth Food Festival every October. It is a festival that is loved by locals and visitors alike. We have a great friendly neighbourhood here and we all celebrate together with friends, family and visitors, it’s a party atmosphere from start to finish, I absolutely love it and love being a part of it!”.
Festival Advocate & Company Director
Looking out across the waters of the Bristol Channel would be Mitch Tonks’ first significant connection with the sea. He grew up with his mother in Weston-super-Mare. Just a few doors down the road lived his grandmother. It was in his grandmother’s kitchen that his earliest food memories would form. He recalls buckets of eels arriving at her back door, fished from the Rynes by the local children. The eels would win an hour’s reprieve swimming around in her sink before being chucked, boiled and jellied. Mitch would run errands for his grandmother. He’d return home from the fishmonger with shrimps, which he’d help to peel and prepare sandwiches with, which they would then devour together. These simple shared pleasures were the first small steps of a food journey that would take Mitch to culinary experiences all around the world. But home would always be the coastline of the south-west of England and the place where his fervour for seafood in particular would shape and resonate most profoundly.
Mitch has become one of the most respected and knowledgeable seafood people in the country and an acclaimed restaurateur, chef and author in the process. His Seahorse restaurant has won the Observer’s ‘Best UK Restaurant’ gong; his Rockfish takeaway restaurant chain has twice claimed ‘Best Independent Restaurant’ at the National Fish & Chip Awards. Of his books, one of them – Fresh – scooped ‘Best Fish Book’ at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. And his achievements and influence have been further recognised with a nomination for Ernst & Young’s ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ and inclusion in The Caterer’s prized ‘Top 100 Most Influential Foodies’ list.
Such accolades are an acknowledgement for a philosophy that is genuine and refreshing in a world where Michelin stars and viral social media campaigns so often steal the limelight: keep it simple and do something as well as you can possibly do it.
Each new day at The Seahorse, the Dartmouth quayside restaurant he co-owns and runs with his best friend Mat Prowse, begins as though it was their first. Acutely aware that they are only as good as the weather and climate and the food they source, they must rely on their kitchen team to treat those ingredients with care and respect and trust their front-of-house team to welcome each new customer into the restaurant with the warmth afforded to an old friend.
And so it is with each of the other restaurants under his stewardship – Rockfishes in Dartmouth, Torquay, Plymouth and Brixham, and the Spiny Lobster in Bristol. In Brixham, the restaurant stands proudly amongst the bustle and noise of the fish market, allowing the Rockfish chefs to see and hear the catch of the day, every day.
The recipes in his books are the recipes of his restaurants, dating right back to his debut FishWorks Cookbook, named after the original Bath-based restaurant which grew into an award-winning 13-site-strong chain. But these restaurant recipes belong to the home and to tradition, often inspired by his travels and by such legendary writers as Elizabeth David and Jane Grigson, and always informed by the best of what the local land and sea have to offer, embracing simplicity, freshness and flavour over everything else. Home is the ethos that underpins every aspect of his restaurant business. He wants people to walk into a place and they feel like they belong there, a restaurant that knows everyone.
His fifth cookbook is the absolute embodiment of this philosophy, featuring the people who produce, source and supply his restaurant, the cultures and traditions that pass recipes down from generation to generation and the simple wonders of the ingredients themselves. The Seahorse: The Restaurant and its Recipes was published in June 2015.
On TV he’s known for his ten-part fishing series with Matt Dawson and appearances on Saturday Kitchen and Market Kitchen. He is a consultant for the menus on the distinguished Pullman trains run by Great Western Railway and also to a number of brilliant national restaurants, including Hawksmoor in London. He is a champion of sustainability and driven by a strong belief that the South West coast is Britain’s Seafood Coast and produces some of the finest seafood in the world.
He is committed to constantly giving back to the community that has given him so much. He has embarked on an academy scheme in partnership with South Devon College to help train the next generation of aspiring chefs and to supporting the local fishing industries. On matters of UK fishing, sustainability and supply, his is arguably one of the most erudite and credible voices out there.
“I really enjoyed taking part in the Dartmouth Food Festival, it was very well organised with so much going on there was always something to do or somebody to see. …I even managed to to some hobnobbing with suppliers and chefs. With the festival spread out over the majority of the town centre it gives a great sense of community and involves so many local business’. I look forward to being part of it again in the future.”
Nick Evans grew up in East Sussex and from a young age worked the land around their home with his brother and father growing everything from potatoes to a small vineyard. It was fate that brought Nick to work in kitchens, covering for his brother as a kitchen porter when he fell ill.
Nick never looked back. Whilst studying for a degree in hospitality, he worked a year at a variety of Rick Stein’s businesses, learning a great deal about French classical cooking under Stephane Delourme at The Seafood Restaurant. Nick returned as Chef de Partie in 2007 and over the next 6 years worked his way up to Senior Sous Chef, before joining the team at St Petroc’s Bistro in 2014 as Head Chef. In 2016, Nick took on his current role, becoming Head Chef Lecturer at Rick Stein’s Cookery School.
Photograph by David Griffin
Bristol-born Olivia grew up in a family for whom food was a big part of daily life and their Italian heritage. She cites her grandfather, who was a chef, as one of her greatest influences.
Olivia took an intense chef training course at Bournemouth College before undertaking work experience at London’s St Albans and The Wolseley. Olivia then worked at the prestigious Wright Brothers, Galvin Bistro and under Angela Harnett at the Michelin starred Murano.
Returning to Bristol, Olivia opened Adelina Yard in 2015 with her partner and co chef patron Jamie Randall. The restaurant now has 2 AA Rosettes and shortly after their first anniversary was awarded a place in the Top 100 restaurants guide.
Chef & Food Writer
Showing the Dough who is boss since 1980
Originally trained as a baker in Brittany, Richard has been in England since 1988 and is now very much an Anglophile. With 20 years experience in the kitchen, baking, consulting and teaching behind him, Richard moved to Bath in 2005 to open The Bertinet Kitchen cookery school. His classes attract customers from all over the world to come to learn to bake with him. Richard was named as BBC Food Champion of the Year 2010 for his work on baking.
Founded in response to requests from cookery school customers and locals to buy the bread being made on classes, The Bertinet Bakery originally opened as a pop up above the cookery school in 2008. It now operates from 2 production bakeries in Bath and London supplying its own shop in Bath together with wholesale customers across the South in addition to Waitrose who stock Bertinet Bread nationwide.
Richard’s first book Dough was published in 2005 and was awarded the IACP Best Cookery Book of the Year 2006, the Julia Child Award for the Best First Book, the James Beard Award for Best Book Baking and Desserts and The Guild of Food Writers Award for Best First Book. It has been translated into 15 languages and is sold in over 20 countries. Crust published in 2007, was given a World Gourmand Award for the Best British book on Baking and a James Beard Award for Food Photography. Crumb is Richard’s 6th book and was published in February 2019.
Chef & Food Writer
ROMY GILL MBE
Romy Gill MBE….Chef , food writer , author and presenter
Chef Romy Gill MBE is a British/Indian chef, food/travel writer and broadcaster based in the south-west of England. She was the owner and head chef at Romy’s Kitchen. In 2016 she was appointed an MBE in the Queen’s 90th Birthday Honours list.
Romy is one of the regular and much-loved chefs on BBC1’s Ready Steady Cook and has appeared on many other TV programmes, including Sunday Brunch, BBC’s The One Show, Country Life, Celebrity MasterChef, The Hairy Bikers’ Comfort Food, James Martin’s Saturday Morning and Celebrity Pointless. Romy is also a regular on BBC Radio 4’s Food Programme. She has also become a regular on Channel 4’s Packed Lunch. She recently was part of the Today show at NBC in America.
Romy writes regularly for BBC Food, The Telegraph, The Sunday Times and Ocado Magazine. She also regularly contributes to national and international publications including The New York Times and Food 52. She travels across the UK and abroad to food demos and conferences. in 2018 Romy was invited as a speaker at the Mad Symposium in Copenhagen. and to cook at the prestigious James Beard Foundation in New York.
She released her debut cookbook in September, 2019. Zaika – Vegan Recipes from India is. Her second book, On The Himalayan Trail, is out now and available from bookshops and online retailers
I am a former professional rugby player and life long lover of food. My passion for cooking comes a very close second to my passion for rugby and luckily for me they go hand in hand – you could say I taught myself to cook when I wasn’t at the bottom of a ruck! I’ve played rugby around the world and those times abroad have given me one valuable lesson: wherever you are and whatever culture you are in, food is the one thing you can rely on to bring people together.
Being a professional rugby player meant living with some of the other professional players, so I often had to create big, healthy and filling meals on a budget. My enthusiasm and enjoyment of cooking for the team encouraged me to become more creative and to widen my repertoire. So when I retired from rugby it felt a natural step to move on to buy a cookery school – and Philleigh Way was the result!
My love for cooking comes from my mum. She’s my culinary inspiration and from a very young age I enjoyed learning from her in the kitchen. As a family we spent a lot of time in France, which is where, as a child, food began to take on a deeper meaning for me and I gradually began to understand how food can embody national culture.
Developing a positive mental attitude was one of the main areas that we were coached in as professional sportsmen. It involved constantly focussing on improving our skills. I apply this ethos to my culinary life, and have sought out opportunities at Michelin-star restaurants, pubs, street food vendors and bakers. Talking to and observing the best in the business.
In a nutshell, I love food. I embrace the challenge that comes with sharing that enjoyment through my cookery school, my community projects and my family life. To have a passion in life is a marvellous thing. I’m so lucky to have it and l look forward to sharing it with you
food writer & Chef
Food historian, writer and cook Sam Bilton has been intrigued by spices most of her life. Her first book on the history of gingerbread won a World Gourmand Cookbook award in 2021. She is a frequent contributor to national magazines, food festivals, television and radio. Fool’s Gold: A History of British Saffron is Sam’s second book.
Escaping London 15 years ago to move closer to the Family Farm in Blackawton Serin has played a large role in getting the Dartmouth Food Festival where it stands today. As Chef Director he helps co-ordinate all the food based events in the lead up and through the Festival weekend.
Our Festival Chef & Company Director
Serin started his time in Dartmouth opening the Anzac Street Bistro a much loved and successful bistro in the centre of Dartmouth but after 11 successful years Serin decided to have a change and set about a new business with old friend Simon Entwistle and Dartmouth Fine Foods was born.
Serin and Simon now offer bespoke Catering for any size event from a small Canapé party of 20 to Grand Weddings for 200 they also offer contract catering and are working on a line of top class ready meals for customers and businesses for re sale. With between them more than 40 years experience in different aspects of the catering trade Serin and Simon bring a whole heap of knowledge to the Food Festival and continue to steer it on a steady path.
Apprentice, Shannon Kingdon, won the silver medal and ‘Best in Class’ for her Main Course in the Major Series chef competition back in March of this year, then travelled to London to compete in the Major Chef’s Culinary Challenge – cooking for Michel Roux Jnr in London in front of 300-400 people! The college is extremely proud of Shannon for flying the flag for the South West and South Devon College.
Shannon came away with a Merit
Shannon Kingdon – Silver medal and ‘Best in Class’ for Main Course interview
Excited about what the future holds for her : “I just want to be a really good chef and get experience in every area possible. I want to discover what I’m into by trying everything first, and this level of restaurant style cooking is where I see myself going where the preparing, cooking, and presenting is more of an art”
You can see Shannon alongside her Chef Lecturer David Wells.
Photo credit Headcake.