Chef profile - Arthur Bridgeman Quin, The Punch Bowl Inn at Crosthwaite
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Arthur Bridgeman Quin’s star is on the rise. But he believes his success is all down to team work. Emma Mayoh reports
Anyone who assumes chefs are bossy, demanding and over the top would do well to meet Arthur Bridgeman Quin. This talented 21-year-old has had more accolades than others more senior in years could ever wish for. But Arthur, head chef at The Punch Bowl Inn at Crosthwaite which has two AA Rosettes, isn’t interested in luxuriating in his own accomplishments.
‘It’s not just about one person,’ he said. ‘One chef doesn’t make a fantastic restaurant. It’s not how it works. And I would be foolish to think that way.
‘We’re a team in the kitchen, all working together to try and create the best experience for our guests. The enjoyment I get from my job is reward enough. I love it and I just want to get on with it.
‘We wouldn’t get that if we were all shouting at each other. In fact, absolutely no shouting is allowed in the Punch Bowl kitchen. It’s not necessary.’
Modesty aside, there is no escaping the fact he has earned himself some stripes. And his humble nature hides a determined character.
As well as being named North West Young Chef of the Year at just 19 – he was the youngest finalist in the competition – he also won the Craft Guild’s National Young Chef of the Year in 2016 and this month will again compete in the finals of the National Young Chef of the Year. Arthur also won the 2017 William Heptinstall Award.
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But rather than take the credit, he believes his success can be attributed to hard work as well as the people who have helped guide him to be the chef he is today. These include the Punch Bowl’s former head chef, Scott Fairweather, who Arthur took over from just under 12 months ago, and business owner Richard Rose.
‘I’ve been so lucky to have mentors like Scott and Richard,’ said Arthur, who lives in Kendal but is originally from Lancaster. ‘It’s all happened very naturally and it’s a great place to be.
‘Taking over from Scott felt like the right thing to do. It’s a challenge and a new learning curve and sometimes an opportunity comes up and you just can’t say no.’
Arthur’s love for cooking was first kindled at Queen Elizabeth School in Kirkby Lonsdale by catering lecturer, Mr Hill as well as by watching chefs like James Martin on Saturday Kitchen. The teacher captured his pupil’s imagination and stirred up Arthur’s thirst for knowledge. It was work experience at The Plough at Lupton, then owned by the Punch Bowl Inn’s owner Richard Rose, and then a job at the Crosthwaite inn that cemented his desire to become a chef. He was only 15.
‘I was working and doing my GCSEs at the same time,’ said Arthur. ‘I know which one won. And it wasn’t my exams. But I’m happy with how things turned out.
‘It was certainly a challenge and there was a lot to learn. Lots of early mornings and late nights learning and experiencing new things, doing tastings and trying new products. I was really lucky to be able to do all of that at the Punch Bowl. I spent three years learning all the different sections.’
It has been the nurturing environment of the Punch Bowl that has seen Arthur go from commis chef to today’s role as head chef. With sous chefs Callum Wardlaw and Matt Clarke, the 10-strong kitchen team are turning out impeccable food that draws in diners in their droves. The Punch Bowl has been awarded several accolades, including most recently being named Cumbria Dining Pub of the Year in this year’s Good Food Guide.
Together, the team produce simple food, taking heavy influence from the classics and using a stellar line-up of local producers including Udale’s in Morecambe for some of their meats, Cartmel Valley Game for local game, crabs and lobsters and McClures in Windermere for dried goods.
‘The suppliers are everything,’ said Arthur. ‘You can’t make a good dish without a good product. We’re the last people in the chain and want to do that food justice. It’s easy when you’re working with producers who have the same passion and respect as we do.
‘I think keeping food simple is for the best.’
Arthur’s prize for winning the William Heptinstall accolade will see him leave his beloved Punch Bowl Inn for 18 months to explore the culinary delights of France. He will travel around this beautiful part of the world working in restaurants in Bordeaux, Provence and Alsace improving on the skills he has already gained as well as picking up new ones.
‘It’s something I’m really looking forward to,’ said Arthur. ‘The amount I stand to learn from this opportunity is incredible and you only have to look at the standard of previous winners to see what can be achieved after winning this award.
‘There’s no doubt that I’ll be pushing myself out of my comfort zone but I’ve always wanted to travel and for me, France is a perfect choice as it’s the home of proper classical cooking.
‘This is certainly an opportunity that doesn’t come along every day and I’ll look forward to planning it – and learning French – over the next 18 months.
‘It will feel very strange being away from the Punch Bowl but it’s just one of those things. You’ve just got to get on with it. The plan is to come back to Crosthwaite. I’m not ready to leave.’
Arthur’s ultimate plan is to have his own place by the time he reaches 30. But he is not setting anything in stone as to the kind of establishment it will be.
‘I think it’s better to see what happens,’ said Arthur. ‘I really would love my own place when I’m ready. It might be a café, it might be a restaurant, who knows?
‘But having the right team in place will be very important to me. That’s something I’ve learned is so important.
‘A place can’t be, and shouldn’t be, built on the reputation of one chef. It’s about the people who work together to make things happen.’