- 2023 Chef of the Year - Tom De Keyser
Tom Kerridge’s two Michelin-starred gastropub the Hand & Flowers in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, needs no introduction…
The venue remains a spectacle in the culinary world as the only pub in the UK with two Michelin stars and is visited by thousands of eager foodies from across the country and world each year.
It was Kerridge’s first pub, opened in 2005 and gained its first Michelin star within a year, achieving its second in 2012. It also currently has four AA Rosettes and headed the Top 50 Gastropubs list for many years in a row, before being retired in 2014. It has since come out of retirement, reappearing on the list at number 19 in 2018, before moving up to 14 in 2019 and a further two places in 2020.
After more than a decade, the Hand & Flowers is still a proper pub with proper food. It is friendly, comfortable and relaxing. “We wanted it to be exactly the kind of place where we would like to enjoy our days off,” says Kerridge.
Although it’s Kerridge’s name on the door, there is an accomplished team behind the pub’s success. In charge of the kitchen is head chef Tom De Keyser, a creative and determined chef who was previously head chef at one of Kerridge’s other Marlow venues the Coach.
Making every customer feel special as they walk through the pub’s door is the top agenda for the gastropub, along with giving friendly service and exceptional food and drink.
Lourdes Dooley is the pub’s general manager of many years, who believes the key to a great pub is a good landlord (you’ve got more than that in Kerridge) as well as friendly staff.
Last, but by no means least, is Kerridge’s wife Beth. A big supporter of Kerridge and the Hand & Flowers, she is an accomplished sculptor.
The Hand & Flowers is not Kerridge’s only pub; he owns and runs two others in Marlow – the Butcher’s Tap being the most recently opened. The Coach, formerly headed by Nick Beardshaw and also on the Top 50 Gastropubs list, achieved its first Michelin star in 2017.
Dishes you can expect from the team include duck liver parfait with orange chutney and toasted brioche; Brittany guinea fowl breast with poultry tart, poppy seed turnips, almond butter, tempura fillet and pear ketchup; and the Hand & Flowers chocolate and ale cake with Pedro Ximenez and Rebellion Beer ice cream.
For special occasions, the Hand & Flowers also features a private dining room, The Shed, which can accommodate up to nine pre-booked guests and has a four-course menu priced at £175 per person.
Guests who don’t want to journey home after visiting the Hand & Flowers can take advantage of the gastropub’s 11 bedrooms, situated in cottages nearby. Each guest can select which breakfast they would like to be prepared and waiting for them on their arrival.