The Observer’s Young Chef of the Year Award winner to open Kent pub

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

New experience: the Fordwich Arms is Daniel Smith's first foray into the pub trade (image credit: Facebook)
New experience: the Fordwich Arms is Daniel Smith's first foray into the pub trade (image credit: Facebook)
The Observer’s Food Monthly Young Chef of the Year 2016 winner Daniel Smith is set to open the doors of a Kent pub later this week (Friday 1 December).

Smith has taken on the Fordwich Arms in Fordwich, near Canterbury, with fiancé Tash Norton and business partner Guy Palmer-Brown who was head sommelier at the iconic Clove Club in Shoreditch, east London.

Norton also has experience working in the hospitality sector including in a pastry chef role. Smith told The Morning Advertiser​: “We never planned to go to Kent but the site brought us here. It was absolutely perfect for what we wanted to achieve and our business concept.”

“The three of us have all worked in top restaurants, but I felt like the market was getting saturated. Now, more and more of the top restaurants in the country are pubs.

“The Sportsman in Seasalter, Kent, is a good example of a pub that has smashed it.”

Moving from restaurants to pubs was an easy decision to make for the trio and Smith highlighted what separates the two types of venues.

High standard

He said: “For us, I love the social side of a pub. It is a bit more informal, but you are still able to do a high standard of food and service.

“We always want to keep the pub a pub. We want people to come and sit at the bar and drink a pint with their dog while others enjoy restaurant quality food in the dining room.

“I have worked in restaurants all my life but I like the informality of a pub where you get so many different types of people.”

Smith also outlined his plans for sourcing all ingredients from the surrounding area and why that is important to him.

He said: “We have got an amazing meat supplier just up the road where the produce comes directly from the farm to the back door.

“We are going to make our own fresh bread every day, make our own butter from the local dairy, get the fish from the coast nine miles down the road.

“We are going to make all of our own pickles and cordials for the drinks. Provenance is such a big thing and we like to know where everything comes from and keep it as local as possible.”

Future plans

While the pub is set to open to the public this week, Smith has already thought about the long-term future.

He said: “We have four and a half years left on our lease with Ei but we want to look at going free-of-tie.

“We have spent a lot of money on this refurb and we are not expecting to be here for just four years. We are expecting to be here for a long time.”

He also revealed how the Fordwich Arms isn’t his only potential project as he would also like to open more sites in the future.

He added: “The idea is we want to give this one everything and make sure it is 100% before we look at doing anything else, but more would be the plan.

“We would certainly like to keep the next one in Kent but there’s nothing to say that we wouldn’t expand out. But that is a long way away yet.”

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