A Twist on Well-Loved Classics
It’s all about the produce for chef Nick Deverell-Smith at his Cotswolds pub The Churchill Arms
Article by Catherine Ferguson
Owning your own pub and sponsoring your boyhood football team, isn’t that every boy’s teenage dream? Throw in a Michelin Guide listing for your pub, The Churchill Arms, multiple TV appearances and a healthy smattering of national awards, there’s plenty of icing on the cake for Chef Nick Deverell-Smith.
Leaving school at the age of just 15 to study at Birmingham’s College of Food, Nick gained the highly coveted title of ‘Junior Chef of the Year’ and went on to work under many acclaimed chefs, becoming a Gordon Ramsay Scholar, training under Marcus Wareing and Gordon himself.
Nick followed a [Michelin] star-studded path to 2015 when he decided to bite the bullet and head home to the Midlands, where he set up The Churchill Arms in the Cotswolds. With a host of fine producers and suppliers on his doorstep, his 17th Century pub promises exceptional food, and exciting twists on British classics, which Nick and his team in the kitchen “push to the next level.”
Nick has firm beliefs about the secrets to gastronomic success. “I think for me it’s all about produce. Here in the Cotswolds, we have some of the best producers in the UK right at our fingertips. I work with my suppliers as closely as possible to make sure I get the very highest quality ingredients to cook with. I think it’s important to cook seasonally too and I love playing around with produce that’s coming into season and creating amazing new dishes for the menu.”
Inspired by the taste of home, Nick says that the ‘twists’ on his traditional dishes come from fond childhood memories. “Take my lobster mac and cheese dish, at home we used to have tuna pasta bake and I wanted to elevate it and create something extra special using the royalty of shellfish. Of course, I’ve picked up ideas working in high-end restaurants, but I also get inspiration from my surroundings. There’s so much beautiful game around at the moment and I like to serve it up with the different types of berries that the game birds like to feast themselves on.”
… Riddle has a tiny favour to ask. Set up four years ago to shine an objective light on the best of British craft and heritage brands, we want to keep our journalism rigorous and and open to all, allowing us to give you unbiased advice and options. It is ever more difficult for high quality journalism outlets to secure income but support from you will enable us to grow and continue to support small British brands. It only takes a minute. Thank you. Make a contribution.
Another of Nick’s dreams was fulfilled when he appeared on Saturday Kitchen Live. “I loved every minute of it! It was very nerve racking and, as you can imagine, the night before I didn’t get much sleep, but it was really fun. I can’t wait to go back!” Realising childhood aspirations is something of a theme for Nick, as The Churchill Arms sits at the heart of village life and sponsors Norton Lindsey Junior Football Club, his boyhood team. “We get everything from people coming for Sunday lunch and families in the garden for a swift pint and some snacks – we see all styles of village and family life,” he says. I played a lot of football when I was young, so sponsoring my old team felt natural as it was a big part of mine and my family’s life. I wanted to give something back to the community and help the younger generation.”
Despite having achieved so much already, Nick tells me that he feels like he’s only just getting started. “You go through so many stages of your career and now I’m at a point where it’s just about getting better and better and driving the business forward – building the team and making sure they understand our philosophy. I want to keep improving everything for our guests too, creating an ambience that they keep on coming back for.” So what’s the dish that Nick would keep coming back for? “Pork T-Bone, basically a posh pork chop from Todenham Farm, packed full of flavour served up with amazing buttery mash and spicy broccoli. Yum.” I don’t know about you, but it gets my vote!