Ben Wilkinson to leave The Cottage in the Woods to take over as head chef at The Pass

The Staff Canteen

Ben Wilkinson, head chef of  Michelin-starred The Cottage in the Woods, has announced that July will be his last month at the restaurant with rooms as he is set to join The Pass at South Lodge. 

Chef Ben Wilkinson, who became head chef of The Cottage in the Woods in 2018, announced on Instagram today that he, along with Monica Zurawska, would be leaving the restaurant at the end of July. 


A post shared by benwnerdchef (@benwnerdchef) 

Ben said: "We have had a lovely time and would like to thank all the team and all of our fantastic guests for making it so special."

"We also need to give a very big thank you to all of our wonderful suppliers and producers that we have worked with over these years in The Lakes. Many of you have become true friends of ours."

On his new appointment, he said: We are very pleased to be joining the team at South Lodge to reopen The Pass. It is a fantastic venue where we will be able to produce a really exciting menu and experience for our guests and add another great restaurant to the hotel. It is a big move down from The Lake District, but I am excited to get working with the produce and suppliers of Sussex.”

Ben will join the South Lodge hotel in August 2022, with his partner, Monika Zurawska, who will be leading the front of house team. Both are thrilled to be join The Pass and bring something new to the Sussex community. 

David Connell, General Manager of South Lodge said: “We are delighted to welcome Ben and Monika to The Pass. The past two years have seen us working with some fabulous chefs for short term residencies, however, we now feel the time is right to bring in a more permanent team to take the restaurant onto new levels. The Pass has always been about providing excellence and fabulous dining experiences, and we believe Ben is the Chef to deliver this for the longer term. Having held a Michelin Star at The Cottage in the Wood in Keswick, along with being listed at number 24 in the UK Top 100 Restaurants list 2021, Ben demonstrates the quality of menu he can bring to South Lodge. The Lake District has fabulous local produce, but we also know that Sussex has too, so we are very excited by what he can bring to the table for our guests.”

His career before The Cottage

Ben joined the team at The Cottage in the Woods originally in a temporary capacity to fill in for a sous chef who was due to start a fortnight later. However, after that chef never showed up, he took the role permanently and in May of 2018 was made head chef after Rich Collingwood, the former head chef left.

It was only a year later that the restaurant achieved its first Michelin star. 

Before that ben's first head chef role was at a four-star country hotel in Derbyshire, which earned 3 AA Rosettes under his tenure. During his career, Ben has worked at Windows at The Hilton Park Lane in London, as well as working in the Netherlands at Savelberg, a boutique hotel restaurant in the Hague.

Along with that, he has worked at Holbeck Ghyll in Windemere for 2 years, followed by a year at Daniel Clifford's Midsummer House before returning to Holbeck for another year. 

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 16th June 2022

Ben Wilkinson to leave The Cottage in the Woods to take over as head chef at The Pass