1 Michelin Star Chefs: Ben Crittenden, chef and owner, Stark

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Opening Stark was a lifelong dream of Ben’s: with help from his father, the chef spent a year doing up the 10-seater restaurant. 

Against all odds, from his tiny galley kitchen tucked away on a side street in an inconspicuous coastal town, he turned the former sandwich shop into a destination restaurant. 

Stark

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1 Oscar Rd, Broadstairs CT10 1QJ

Telephone: 01843 579786

Website and reservations: https://www.starkfood.co.uk/

Opening hours: Wednesday-Saturday 6:30pm-9:30pm

Twitter: @starkfood

Instagram: @starkbroadstairs

Facebook: @starkbroadstairs

Biography 

Ben never planned on being a chef – like many before him, he fell into the profession almost by accident, drawn in for lack of a better means of making money.

The chef worked at The Marquis of Granby in Dover, Rhodes W1 in London and at The West House in Biddenden for former rockstar turned Michelin-starred chef Graham Garratt. He also featured on MasterChef: The Professionals in 2014. 

It is at the Kent restaurant that the chef learnt the time management he needed to adopt the right pace at Stark. 

But skill isn’t everything, and just like any new venue it had to find its feet before enjoying the success it now knows.

When he finally opened his restaurant in a former sandwich shop in Thanet with his wife Sophie managing the (tiny) front of house, the chef spent a year doing agency work on the side to make ends meet. 

The couple made some pragmatic decisions to keep the doors open, scrapping their plans for a tapas restaurant and offering a set price menu instead, opening every day of the week that customers wanted to book. 

Thankfully, their arduous work didn’t take too long to pay off: in 2017, Ben won the Good Food Guide’s Chef to Watch award and the restaurant received a beaming review from Guardian critic and Thanet resident Marina O’Loughlin. 

What the guides say

Michelin:

Michelin star

Harden's: 

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Stark 

The restaurant – despite being named after the fictitious family in HBO’s Game of Thrones, touts the slogan: ‘Good food, laid bare’ reflecting both the décor and the food at Stark. 

Customers wishing to visit the lavatories must head to the pub down the road, where, thankfully, The Wrothan Arms’ landlady Jackie is happy to accommodate. 

Diners (all ten of them) are then left with no choice but to order a six-course tasting menu, with no exceptions made for dietaries, allergies or dislikes. 

Alone in the kitchen, the chef uses high quality ingredients, of which, thanks to his set menu policy, none go to waste. Each dish comprises just three ingredients.

The restaurant’s most popular dishes, according to the guide, are the chef’s crab with carrot and yolk; beef with celeriac and walnut and rhubarb with pistachio and goat’s curd. 

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The  Staff Canteen

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Editor 1st November 2019

1 Michelin Star Chefs: Ben Crittenden, chef and owner, Stark