Head Chef, Lee Bye, in Tuddenham Mill’s kitchen

Meet Tuddenham Mill's chef patron

This part of East Anglia is my world. The Fenland countryside is where I was brought up, went to school and college, where I have always worked and where I am now raising a family. I love it and understand it; it is deeply part of me and I feel rooted here. I love its gentle pace and ordinariness, I love its quiet beauty in any season, and of course the abundance of produce it gives – very important from a Chef’s point of view! This isn’t a part of the world that brags or is flashy; it’s reserved, peaceful, and requires visitors to uncover its charms for themselves because it doesn’t wear them showily on its sleeve.

My relationship with the Mill goes back a fair few years, first working as a Junior Chef under Gordon McNeill and then Sous Chef to Paul Foster. I was there at the time when the media really started to take an interest in what we were doing thanks to an incredible review by Jay Rayner in the Observer, and of course Paul’s appearance on the Great British Menu. When Paul moved on in 2014 I was delighted to take over as Head Chef, and since then I have put my own stamp on the menu and built the reputation of the restaurant here. My style of cooking back then, and still, is that of someone who grew up in the East Anglian countryside and who loves working with the best produce the region has to offer. I love nostalgia in my cooking and enjoy bringing a contemporary slant to old favourites by using modern techniques if they fit. I love hearty flavours and that feeling of comfort you get, and can give, with a good plate of food.

A few years ago, I told a local journalist that I grew up on Rich Tea biscuits and toast, nothing at all fancy food-wise. It’s true, and for me it’s important to stay connected with who you are, to remember your roots, stay humble, honest, modest. But I must say I swell with pride when I think of the recognition that the Mill has earned in recent years thanks to the amazing work and dedication of the whole team here! We hold 3 AA Rosettes, score highly in the prestigious Good Food Guide (in 2015 we won that guide’s national award for the best set lunch in the whole country), and the restaurant was crowned the East Anglian Daily Times’ Restaurant of the Year in the 2016 Suffolk Food & Drink Awards. I was incredibly proud to be named Chef of the Year in those same awards in 2015, and to go on to win an Acorn Award in 2016. This award recognises 30 of the country’s most promising hospitality professionals under the age of 30, and then the Acorn Scholarship just a few months after that. It’s been a few years to remember that’s for sure, but it won’t go to my head: I’m a grafter, and however many accolades come my way, or the Mill’s, I will never become complacent, I promise!

I am now immensely proud to be running Tuddenham Mill as Chef Patron, making sure that every single aspect of your visit, from the moment you are greeted to the moment we say goodbye you are left with fond memories. If you’re popping in for coffee or afternoon tea, I care that your experience of this unique place is as memorable as if you’ve booked for a family Sunday lunch, or an intimate special occasion dinner, or are staying a few nights in one of our gorgeous rooms or cosy Nooks. I care that some of my love for this place rubs off on you; I care that you will want to return! 

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