Favourite Tables

Unique Destinations


A Chefs Table feature on the family run Haywards

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Jahdre Hayward was born in Bermuda, at 15 he moved to the United States to live with his aunt and uncle while he studied culinary arts in Tampa Florida. When his studies were complete he moved to the UK and gained a commis job at The Savoy Hotel, London under Anton Edelmann, where he progressed quickly up the rankings to Chef de Partie. Jahdre`s employment in London and the Home Counties also includes Hanbury Manor, Rules Restaurant, the Oxo Tower, Novelli in the City and The Ritz.

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Amanda Hayward was born and brought up in Essex and lived in the family owned traditional 17th century free house the Forest Gate Inn which is situated on the outskirts of Epping Forest and the charming market town of Epping.  Amanda knew from an early age she was interested in cooking and after leaving school she took a place at Westminster College and trained to be a chef. She has gained experience in many fine restaurants in London and abroad including Simpsons on the Strand, London Capital Club, and then started her own catering company.

Jahdre met Amanda when they both worked at The London Capital Club. They travelled to Australia in 2003 and Jahdre worked briefly at Guillaume at Bennelong, Sydney Opera House whilst experiencing life in Australia. They returned to London for 3 years before migrating to Australia and settling in Melbourne. Jahdre worked as a sous chef at The National Gallery then moved on to become head chef at the Melbourne Wine Room followed by The Millswyn Restaurant. Amanda whilst in Melbourne went from being a chef to a waiter and after working at Grossi Florentino`s and Maze by Gordon Ramsey went on to work at Circa, The Prince and became assistant restaurant manager of the two hat restaurant.

After five and a half years in Melbourne and gaining Australian citizenship, Jahdre and Amanda decided to return to the UK to oversee the development of Haywards in the grounds of the family owned pub the Forest Gate Inn.

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The restaurant was converted from an old coach house, stable and skittle alley. Amanda and Jahdre oversaw the whole process to create their dream restaurant, sympathetically restoring the buildings and retaining many original features. Haywards opened in May 2013 and has gone from strength to strength and both Amanda and Jahdre are passionate about continuous development and progression for the business. The Haywards kitchen garden is thriving and the restaurant has been working with a local bee keeper to keep some bee colonies and produce their own honey.

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With Jadhre’s global background, our questions were many.  Here are some of them:

Influences – now and then?

“My grandmother, with her love of food and family, was really inspiring and I used to love to watch her in the kitchen.  The chef who has really influenced me is Brett Graham at The Ledbury.  His passion for the industry and for sourcing quality local produce is something that we have adopted at Haywards.  He is also passionate about his customers and our many conversations have influenced decisions we have made”

What are your views on the difference between Australian and British restaurant industries? 

“There are quite a lot of differences between restaurants and food styles.  All are positive differences, and in terms of gaining experience and developing my career, I feel very privileged to have worked in many great restaurants in both locations.   Australian restaurants are often slightly Asian inflenced and there are many different products available and not so much emphasis on the seasons. Due to the warmer climates across the country there is more produce available year round.  There is also access to beautiful and more unusual fresh fish such as snapper, barramundi (similar to sea bass and delicious!) and yabbies, which I love.  However, here in the UK I really enjoy the fact that our native produce is seasonal and we can change our menus accordingly.  We also have fantastic, quality British produce and our scallops are amazing!”

If you were not a chef – where would you be now? 

“My career path was destined to been an aircraft mechanic but whilst studying, I took a part time job in a kitchen and my fate was sealed!”

Are there restaurants you would like to go to? 

“If I am lucky enough to travel to the Far East again, I would love to dine at Sukiabashi Jiro, a three Michelin starred sushi restaurant in Japan.  Another three Michelin starred restaurant is Michel Bras in France which is also high on my list.

Haywards Honey – what is your favourite honey dish? 

“We have a beautiful dish on our menu described as Honey, Dill, Almond.  It is a honey parfait garnished with honeycomb, bee pollen and dill ice cream”

A chef to work with – past or present? 

“I would love to work alongside Michael Caines.  I have dined at Gidleigh Park twice and really admire him for his determination, drive and skill” I saw that his latest venue Lympstone Manor is featured on favourite tables so I will be booking dinner there soon.

Finally – where are your favourite tables? 

One of my favourite tables has to be The Ledbury in Notting Hill.  Always an amazing experience and I love everything about this restaurant.

I also think The Artichoke in Amersham is a fantastic restaurant.   They are gaining a lot of recognition but deserve more!

Finally, I celebrated my birthday just before Christmas at the Bildeston Crown in Suffolk.  We had a wonderful stay and a really great meal in their restaurant so I am sure that they will go on to achieve great things.







The Artichoke Restaurant – Amersham

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This was the first time we’ve been here for an evening and what an excellent dining experience it was . A very warm and friendly greeting on arrival then escorted to our table to let the festivities begin. We decided to go for the Tasting Menu with matching Wines and I have to say it was heaven.


Starting with a fantastic Trout dish then an amazing Crab Thermidor followed by a delightful Artichoke dish and stunning Cod course then on to the main courses and my highlight a glorious Venison with orange curd and the braised Beef which was very rich .


The matching wines were a delight coming from Italy,Hungary,Austria,South Africa and France. Now to dessert a fabulous Poached Pear Galette and a Cambridge Cream & Rhubbarb .


All in all it was truly a fantastic evening which was made even better due to the great warm and excellent service from every member of staff . So if it’s a fantastic evening with amazing food and wine in a great little town then take a trip to Amersham and visit this restaurant. I’m already looking forward to returning in June



Distinguished Chef Michael Caines launches Lympstone

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Lympstone Manor, which is already featured in Unique Destinations on Favourite Tables, is the new hotel and restaurant from Chef Michael Caines MBE, probably best known for his 21 years running the kitchen at Gidleigh Park. The new property will be opening for business on April 3 and is taking bookings now (at the time of publishing this article online booking is not available, therefore telephone booking is recommended).

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Following a major refurbishment costing more than £7million of what was Courtlands House. Lympstone Manor with its 28 acres of gardens, grounds and parkland has a commanding position overlooking the Exe river estuary near Exmouth and will feature 21 luxurious guestrooms and suites, 3 dining rooms and its own vineyard.



A contemporary country house hotel surrounded by the beauty and tranquility of East Devon and the Jurassic Coast offering acclaimed fine dining cuisine by Michael Caines and a world-class wine cellar, we predict Lympstone Manor will soon become a top request on Unique Destinations.

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Couldn’t think of a better way to end the year than visiting our favourite local restaurant Haywards. This was our 21st visit of the year and the food & service was consistently as good as always .

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If you like fine dining but don’t want to go into London then this is the place for you. The restaurant serves excellent European Cuisine and also has great Wines to match your food . The restaurant has a nice friendly atmosphere and is a great place for couples or groups and can host bigger parties in the Stable



#epping #Essex #restaurant


BBC’s “Yes Chef” star Luke Tipping talks to Favourite Tables

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This week our guest at Chef’s Table is Simpson’s chef director, Luke Tipping (Professor Tipping, more about that later) who actually didn’t set out to become a chef.

FT: We have read that you became a chef much later than most having had a ‘misspent youth’, tell us more!

LT: I’m not really sure where it was said that I had a misspent youth. That conjures up all sorts of dodgy goings on, which is far from the truth. I just took time deciding what I wanted to do as a career and tried my hand at a few different things. I didn’t avoid becoming a chef it was just that I was a bit put off by the lack of time that my chef father could spend with the family when I was growing up. It wasn’t until I was 20-21 and working in the banqueting department at the Grand Hotel on Colemore Row. I wasn’t cooking at all, in fact I helped out on the event side organising and managing company exhibition and award functions. But I do remember helping out in the kitchen on one occasion, I must have been making sandwiches and plating up canapés before one particularly large event, you know just helping out, and it struck me that the buzz in the kitchen was something I wanted to be part of. So when I got home I spoke to my Dad, who was not keen on me being at the Grand, not sure why but he told me that if I was going to work in the city then it was going to be at the best place, which at that time was the Plough and Harrow. My father made the introduction not directly but through a supplier that also delivered to the Plough and Harrow.

FT: Were you hooked straight away?

LT: Not exactly, in fact I don’t really remember too much about the first year or so. Just that it was lots of split shifts and long hours. But it must have caught me because I subsequently enrolled at Halesowen Catering College and started reading cook books, which to this day is something I have kept up. It was one of Chef Alain Ducasse’s cookbooks that had a massive effect on me and I carried it round with me for ages, still do from time to time.



FT: How did your career progress?

LT: It was at the Plough and Harrow that I first met Andreas Antona, who now owns Simpson’s. We lost contact when I moved on as I wanted to develop my skills and experience. So I took positions as junior sous and then senior sous. It was about this time that my wife and I went for dinner at Simpson’s when it was at it’s previous location at Kenilworth and by chance met Andreas. We spoke and he suggested that I come back and have a chat about joining him and the rest, as they say, is history. We have been working together now for almost 16 years.

FT: What or who have been big influences in your career?

LT: Well obviously, Andreas has been a massive part of my career and we both say that the one without the other would not have been so successful. Recently, well in the past 4 or 5 years I have been developing a nordic style in my food. I visited Noma about 4 years ago and was taken by the way they used fermentation and acidity in the creation of dishes, but also the plating. That’s one thing I pride myself on and that’s being able to visually put a dish together on the plate… that must go back to my time at school, I was always good at art and visual presentation. In fact I even thought about a career in retail design, you know putting cloth on mannequins in the shop window and adding all the detail on the wall and on the glass.

The chef that has most recently influenced my thinking is Simon Rogan and his restaurant L’Enclume and I recently had the chance to not only visit but to work in the kitchen for a week. It felt almost like starting my career again and it was a real honour to have the opportunity to observe at close hand. I packed my knife roll, booked a B&B and got the train up to Cartmel. What really struck me about the way they work is the availability of fresh grown ingredients from the kitchen farm just outside the rear of the restaurant.


They only pick stuff that is just right and what they pick influences the menu for that day. All the meat used comes from land just metres away and then seeing how the daily menu is developed and how each element is carefully treated in the kitchen, before Simon’s style is presented on the plate. It was an incredible week and had a massive effect on my thinking.



FT: So chef, more than two decades on from when you started how would you describe “Luke Tipping’s Style” and the “new” Simpsons.

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LT: It’s sometime very difficult to describe something like that but I would say my style is ‘very natural, very seasonal and free flowing’

I have been incredibly lucky here at Simpsons and fortunate to have formed a partnership with legendary chef and restaurateur Andreas Antona back in 2000. We have worked very hard to establish Simpsons as one of the region’s best restaurants and the recent refurbishment has enhanced and improved all areas of the restaurant.

FT: Tell us more about the Professorship from University College Birmingham.

LT: I feel very strongly about training and have run many in house programmes and the brigade have seen lots of talented chefs come up through the ranks (Glynn Purnell is among his protégés) being a Professor of Culinary Arts has helped me in this area.

FT: Thank you Chef we have enjoyed our time with you today and being able to see all the improvements and enhancements made to Simpsons recently.  Now it’s time for the fun part –  tell us about restaurants you have dined at and been back to…

LT: Locally my wife and I enjoy an evening at Pure Bar & Kitchen, it’s very relaxed and social and the matching of food and craft beers is done very well.

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Somewhere I have been to a number of times and have already booked to go back to is L’Enclume, Simon Rogan’s restaurant. Knowing what it takes to hold one michelin star here at Simpson’s, I know that L’Enclume thoroughly deserves two stars.


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Nick Bennett

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Favourite tables do enjoy the most outstanding good luck! We recently had the good fortune to enjoy some of Chef Nick Bennett’s food at a Pop-up event he had put together with a Chef’s Table featured chef Danilo Cortellini, more of that in a minute, but we could not pass up the chance to chat to this BBC Masterchef finalist and invite him to join our Chef’s Table.

Born in Royal Leamington Spa, he first became interested in cooking at school through lessons called Food Tech “My mum and grandmother were both keen cooks, at home constantly baking and cooking amazing food. I was therefore able to experiment and practice with their gentle guidance and encouragement” Then Nick had the chance to working part-time in a family friends local pub and loved it there. Starting off pot washing, prepping for the starter courses and sometimes serving at table. One Monday evening he was thrown the challenge of running a service and he was hooked. Nick chose to go the Stratford-upon-Avon catering college, taking 3 courses whilst taking on a part time apprenticeship.

The apprenticeship led into a position as a commis chef at the Brasserie at Mallory Court working under the direction of Executive Head Chef Simon Haigh. A year later Nick moved to work alongside Head Chef Andrew Scott in the Michelin starred main restaurant. Nick’s career developed there and he became junior sous chef

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In late 2012, Nick and Andrew both left Mallory Court to take up positions at the Curlew restaurant in East Sussex. Nick said “working with Andrew has helped refined me as a chef, as well as influencing my creativity, without limits”. During their time at the Curlew the restaurant won and retained a Michelin Star.

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Nick is now senior sous chef at Restaurant 56 at the Sudbury House hotel in Farington Oxfordshire and his partnership with Head Chef Andrew Scott has continued. Sudbury House holds 4 AA Silver Stars and Restaurant 56 holds 3 AA Rosettes.

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Late in 2014 the BBC approached asking Nick if he would be interested in taking part in MasterChef 2015. “I entered the competition to push myself and to see how I stacked up against other chefs in the country. I’m extremely proud that I got to the final three, the final tests with Scott Barnard and the eventual winner Mark Stinchcombe in front on Monica and Marcus were the most challenging.



Nick has stayed in touch with all the chefs from the final weeks of the competition. That’s how the pop-up came about. Held at Venturi Tables in West London, Nick and Danilo shared the four courses, with Nick presenting the starter of Salmon Mi-Cuit, Violet Potato Mousse, Watercress and Salted Lemon:


and the desert course of Cherry and Pistachio Cheesecake, Cherry Sorbet and Cookie Crumb:


It was an amazing evening and a fascinating collaboration, which we hope will be repeated sometime soon.

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Favourite Tables then asked Chef about places he would call his “favourite tables”

“The Hand & Flowers is a firm favourite” he replied. “Its not too far from home and we have enjoyed evenings and Sunday Lunch. I really like what Tom Kerridge has created and the food is always excellent”

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“Then, when I feel like spoiling myself and loved ones, we visit L’Enclume Simon Rogan’s restaurant in Carmel. I believe this restaurant is as near to perfect as you can get. Food is always of a very high standard and the service is perfectly balanced, attentive but never over bearing”

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“Can I mention a couple of other great places locally… is that ok?” – how could we say no.

“These are two “Gastropubs” I love going to and I think a lot more people should know about and try, they could become peoples Favourite Tables” ( we see what you did there chef….)

“Firstly the Star Inn in Sparsholt, great local with amazing food, Sunday Lunch is very good”



“And the Maybush in Witney great location right on the Thames by one of the oldest bridges across the river. It has recently undergone a major refurbishment, but kept lots of it’s charm”