Chef profile - Lewis Thornhill, The Devonshire Arms at Beeley

Head Chef Lewis Thornhill

Head Chef Lewis Thornhill - Credit: Archant

The head chef of the Devonshire Arms at Beeley reveals his favourite dishes.

Devonshire Arms, Beeley

Devonshire Arms, Beeley - Credit: Archant

Tell us a bit about yourself

I was raised in Melton Mowbray and trained at Stapleford Park in Leicestershire. I spent my 20s working in London and Dublin and then worked at Hart’s Restaurant in Nottingham before coming to The Devonshire Arms at Beeley.

How would you describe your approach to food?

I like to seek out great ingredients, treat them with respect and put together meals which people actually want to eat. My approach to cooking is to keep things simple, with a refined touch. I believe cooking seasonally is the only way forward; it’s cost-effective and you work with ingredients that are at their best.

Tell us about your menu

The menu offers good pub food. I work closely with my supplier to ensure provenance and seasonality. I like people to know they’re eating Chatsworth lamb or Evesham asparagus. I think quality and value are important nowadays in an increasingly expensive market.

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Which dish would you most recommend?

The Chatsworth Estate lamb. The Farm Shop butchers prepare the lamb and we slow cook the shoulders overnight. We serve it with a North African spiced cous-cous with plenty of mint, coriander and lime juice, finished with toasted almonds to provide a real crunch. For me, the flavours are exciting and a pleasure to eat.

Which ingredient could you not live without?

Butter. It just makes everything better!

Any career highlights?

Reaching Head Chef position here at the The Devonshire Arms. After spending 15 years listening and training it’s fantastic to now have full control over the food I’m presenting and let my creative side take over.

What has been your most memorable meal?

Eating at Mugaritz in the Basque Country. The forward-thinking chef experiments with flavours, textures and smells – with great results. Admittedly, it’s an indulgent experience, yet so insightful and inspiring.

What would you choose as your last meal on earth?

A barbecued 4-rib of beef, just delicious!

What advice would you give to a novice?

Expect to work hard. You’ll get nothing from this industry unless you’re prepared to put a lot in.

Which chef is your greatest inspiration?

A Head Chef I worked under called Sean Smith. He was a great leader by example. He set a high bar, never shrugged off work and showed his team the way to achieve your personal best is with exceptional standards and a good work ethic. I left working with him at sous chef level, and have carried those attributes with me since!

The Devonshire Arms, Devonshire Square, Beeley, Matlock DE4 2NR. Tel: 01629 733259,

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