Last week, the Cartford Inn, in Little Eccleston, was named the UK's best foodie hotel in The Sunday Times Best Places to Stay 2021 guide.
Originally a 17th century coaching inn, the Cartford Inn is a multi award-winning pub, restaurant and boutique hotel owned by Julie and Patrick Beaume, and located between the Forest of Bowland and the Fylde coast.
With this prestigious accolade focusing on the hotel's fabulous food, the Post interviewed the head chef, Chris Bury, to find out more about the man leading the team at the UK's best hotel kitchen.
Originally from Thornton-Cleveleys, Chris describes himself as "Lancastrian through and through", and became the head chef at the Cartford Inn in 2016.
Commenting on the award, Chris, 34, said: "We are always very proud and honoured when we pick up awards, it gives the team a boost and a sense of achievement. It gives us the energy to keep improving, be more creative and it cultivates a feeling of enjoyment which is so important in a successful kitchen."
Before working at the Cartford Inn, Chris was a chef at the famous Claridge’s in London, and Heston Blumenthal’s three Michelin starred The Fat Duck, amonst other prestigious kitchens.
As well as working in a variety of famous gastro-pubs, Chris also spent a few years abroad, in Asia and Australia, gaining food knowledge from around the world "before bringing all [his] experience back to [his] Lancashire roots at the age of 26."
Born, raised and trained in Lancashire, Chris's family owned a Blackpool hotel for many years, and from the age of 12, Chris would help cook breakfast and evening meals alongside his grandad, which led to him joining Blackpool & Fylde catering college, in turn kick-starting his professional career as a chef.
Explaining why he joined the Cartford Inn team, Chris said: "After working away for many years, it was always my plan to come home and use my skills with the produce I was brought up with. I visited the Cartford a few times before I worked there, and the place always appealed to me. It has an arty and creative feel, and it’s located in such a beautiful rural area, so close to good local produce."
During his time at the Cartford Inn, Chris has helped bring the pub its second AA rosette, and a position in the exclusive Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastro Pubs list, but he insists "it is a team effort, there is nothing you can do in a professional kitchen without a good team."
Chris's culinary work has also lead to features on the Great British Chef’s and BBC Good Food, and to him being named a Taste Lancashire Ambassador, in recognition of his culinary excellence and support of the county's Taste Lancashire activities, that champion Lancashire food and drink nationally and internationally.
But turning to the true star of the show, the food, Chris describes the Cartford Inn menu as relying on the "fundamentals" of good quality fresh local produce, seasonal and good cooking techniques, with the menu being a mix of contemporary and classic dishes, with a small French influence from Patrick, one of the owners.
Regarding the menu's most popular items, Chris said: "We have always had some classic dishes like the oxtail and beef skirt suet pudding and also the French onion soup which people return for time and time again but now we are increasingly finding that customers love to experiment with some of our more creative dishes."
He added: "I also believe we are the best place for fish and seafood on the Fylde coast! I am very passionate about this. We are very lucky that our fish supplier in Fleetwood, Midland fish company, has a family connection."
However the chef has his own personal favourites on the menu too, Chris said: "I would happily cook it all, all day, in fact I do, but to eat there is nothing better than a cote de boeuf (Rib of beef) grilled to share with béarnaise sauce, a few chips and a good bottle of red Bordeaux (definitely a chef’s favourite)."
To find out more about The Cartford Inn and to book your table or stay, visit its website.
The full Sunday Times Best Places to Stay 2021 guide is also available online.