Former Eckington Manor head chef Mark Stinchcombe takes over the food offering at Severn & Wye Smokery

The  Staff Canteen

Eckington Manor has taken Mehdi Amiri on as head chef, replacing Mark and Sue Stinchcombe, at the helm for the past five years, who have moved to Gloucester, where Mark is head of the food offering at The Severn & Wye Smokery.

In an interview with The Staff Canteen, Mehdi said it was "very exciting" to have taken over at the Worcestershire Country House Hotel, which grows its own produce and rears its own cattle. 

"It's exactly what I've been looking for really," he said. 

The former executive chef of Yorkshire's Swinton Park and culinary arts graduate has a wealth of experience under his belt, having joined Le Manoir aged 18, followed by Gordon Ramsay’s Royal Hospital Road, The Fat Duck, Dormy House and Wynyard Hall. 

His predecessors were of just as high a calibre: Mark  Stinchcombe, winner of MasterChef: The Professionals 2015 and co-head chef at Eckington Manor for the past five years previously worked at the Fat Duck,  Lucknam Park and Driftwood prior to taking up the position, while his wife sue worked at  The Wood Norton Hall under John Campbell, Gordon Ramsay’s Royal Hospital Road, French Laundry, and Belle House, also in Pershore . Both worked at David Everitt-Matthias' Le Champignon Sauvage, where they met. 

Mark told The Staff Canteen that since he and Sue left in March, he has taken on the leading role for the food offering at the Severn & Wye Smokery in Westbury-on-Severn, while his wife cares for their young daughter. 

The family-run smokery specialises in hot-smoked fish sold in their farm shop, cafe and restaurant, and Mark said he is enjoying working with culinary director Greg Nicholson. 

"We don't have much to do with the smokery but we get to use all the products and the fish that comes through is incredible, we've got a massive fish counter using fresh fish from local shores around the UK so it's amazing." 

On their decision to move, Mark said: "It was just a natural thing, we'd been there [at Eckington Manor] for four years and we decided that we needed a little bit more time with the family and look after ourselves a little bit."

"The right thing came up at the right time; we fell in love with the building and the owners are amazing."

Big boots to fill

Asked whether he was concerned that returning guests would find it difficult to adjust to a new offering at Eckington Manor, Mehdi said: "Like every chef or even duo of chefs, everybody has their own style or experience they bring with them, it's trying to be commercial and also have your own stamp on what you're doing." 

"We've had customers of theirs who've been coming here for years and we've been catering for them and they seemed to be very happy. The menu has only slightly changed, but from the feedback we've been getting, they can see the difference."

"I wish them all the best in where they are and what their plans are." 

Mehdi is joined by his sous-chef from Swinton Park, and together with the new team at Eckington Manor they are designing a new menu to reflect their own style. 

"We're eager to put our stamp on the place," he said. 

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 6th June 2019

Former Eckington Manor head chef Mark Stinchcombe takes over the food offering at Severn & Wye Smokery