1 Michelin Star Chefs: Richard Craven, chef owner, The Royal Oak

The Staff Canteen

Richard Craven is the chef and owner of The Royal Oak in Whatcote, WARWICKSHIRE. 

The Cotswolds-born chef worked at the Kingham Plough under Emily Watkins' tutelage, before heading to Cape Town in South Africa to work at Le Quartier Francais' The Tasting Room - where he met his wife and co-owner of The Royal Oak, Solange.

The Royal Oak


2 Upper Farm Barn, Whatcote, Shipston-on-Stour CV36 5EF

Telephone: 01295 688100

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

Opening hours:

Monday, Tuesday: Closed  
Wednesday, Thursday: 4:30pm - 11pm
Friday    12–3pm, 4:30–11pm
Saturday    12–11pm
Sunday    12–4pm

Twitter: @TheRoyalOakTeam


Instagram: @the_royal_oak_whatcote


Facebook: @WhatcoteRoyalOak

Career Path

The chef then worked at The Test Kitchen under chef Margot Janse, but finally moved back to the UK as he and his wife found it hard to make a decent living in South Africa. 

The couple made a furor when they oversaw the Chef’s Dozen in Chipping Campden and The Fuzzy Duck in Stratford-Upon-Avon. So successful was The Chef's Dozen that Richard said they "outgrew" its nine tables and tiny kitchen.

The Royal Oak 

In its original days, The Royal Oak was a drinks shelter, catering for workmen who were building the local church. Rumour has it that Oliver Cromwell stayed there during the Battle of Edgehill in 1642. 

When they took over the 800 year-old country pub in the Cotswolds village of Whatcote, Richard and Solange decided it would remain a pub, and more than half of its trading space is for drinkers and snackers.

In the kitchen, the chef takes the field-to-fork mantra quite seriously, and happily, the gastropub's location means ingredients don't have far to travel before they make it on a plate.

The self-titled country bumpkin has a pig farm at his disposal and often gets game shot to order - almost all of the meat served at TRO is wild - sourcing organic vegetables locally "where possible," and getting fish in daily from Cornwall or Gloucestershire. Foraged ingredients feature heavily, and these are often 

Diners are given two options: a five-course tasting menu for £55 or a set menu (two courses for £24, three for £29).


Specialities include pig's head & black pudding lasagna with hazelnuts and cider reduction; red deer with venison suet pudding, carrot, elderberry and purple sprouting broccoli; Yorkshire rhubarb with caramelised white chocolate and fennel.

Meanwhile, the short-but-sweet wine list shows off Solange's homeland of South Africa, with bottles almost twice as good in value compared to their French counterparts.

The Mail on Sunday critic Tom Parker-Bowles included The Royal Oak in his Christmas 2018 round-up of top pubs, calling it “a cut above the norm”, with a stripped-back room that’s always bathed in natural light.

He said: “Richard… is a chef of true talent. Forget pub grub. This is cooking to dazzle and delight.”

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 27th November 2019

1 Michelin Star Chefs: Richard Craven, chef owner, The Royal Oak