Arriving at the Hardwick has been quite a long & interesting journey. Throughout there have been some memorable highlights, working with Marco Pierre White in the early days of his first restaurant Harvey’s, when Marco was at his most creative and was a man on a mission. Great friendships were forged and a mentor was established.
After Harvey’s Marco sent me to La Gavroche which at the time still held three Michelin stars, working under the direction of Michel Roux Jr, an introduction to classical French cooking that has become part of the foundation of my philosophy of cooking. Next stop was Scotland as Sous Chef at The Breaval Old Mill the first restaurant of now celebrity and great friend Chef Nick Nairn. The journey then headed back to London to open The Canteen in Chelsea Harbour for Marco and Michael Caine, this was where I was awarded my first Michelin star, at the age of 25.
After two years at The Canteen it was time for a sabbatical and France beckoned. Six months in the South of France near St Tropez at a one star Relais Chateau, called Le Roches. From there to Paris and six months at L’arpege, then a two star Michelin restaurant, now a three star led by Chef Alain Passard, who was a great inspiration.
I then took up an offer of head chef at Oliver Peyton’s new restaurant Coast in Mayfair, London. This was the first restaurant where it was completely my own creativity from the planning of the kitchen to the menu content . It was also a place where many now established and great cooks such as, Jason Atherton, Hywell Jones, Mark Sergent and Dan Lepard, all at some time worked under my direction, also helping to establish Coast as one of the most cutting edge and leading restaurants in London in the late nineties. After Coast I travelled a little, taking in Australia and parts of North America and was then approached by Franco to purchase The Walnut Tree Inn. The Walnut Tree opened in February 2001 and I won a Michelin star the following year. After two years I left The Walnut Tree and headed back to London to take a position as Head Chef at Cecconis a legendary Italian restaurant in Mayfair that was in need of a little inspiration.
From Cecconis it was on to another consultancy at The Pear Tree Inn, Whitley, Wiltshire, which was then awarded Best Pub in England by the AA Guide in 2005.
It was whilst commuting from home in South Wales to The Pear Tree that The Horse & Jockey Pub came on the market which was in need of a new lease of life and with the help and support of friends and family the Hardwick was born within four weeks of purchase. The Phoenix had risen from the ashes!View Stephen's Website