Introducing new head chef David Boswell
Last month saw an exciting addition to the Kentish Hare team, as we welcomed new head chef David Boswell into the kitchen of our Bidborough pub and restaurant. A Tanner veteran through and through, David has worked closely with James and Chris for the last 13 years, beginning in the brothers’ Barbican Kitchen in 2006, before moving to their first site, Tanners, both in Plymouth.
“I started out in a local catering college in Plymouth, which Chris and James worked with as well,” he says. “I’ve been with them for a long time now, which can be a negative and a positive in our industry. But I’ve forever got my head in books and am constantly eating out at different places, so I’m always moving forward by seeing and doing new things.”
With experience both in the UK and abroad in Italy and Norway, David has certainly earned his stripes over the years. Before joining The Kentish Hare, the talented cook began his career as a commis chef, and was promoted through the ranks to chef de partie and sous positions. Moving to Kent earlier this year for this latest role, he’s ready to grab his first head chef gig by the horns.
“I’m used to Kent a little bit, because I’ve got family up here,” he continues. “The area’s lovely and I’m loving the site; the food still needs to progress and push on more, but we’re making the most of cooking local, fresh food. The menu and dishes are ultimately going to change with the seasons.
“James and Chris give me the freedom to do a lot of what I want and put my own stamp on things. I’ve known them for so long that I’ve developed a great relationship with them; they’ll do anything for you, and have become great friends and mentors over the years.”
Along with wife Eszter, who manages the bar and comes from a background at Plymouth Gin, David’s embraced the close-knit feel of the Kentish Hare family. In the kitchen, he’s joined by senior chef de partie Stephen Ferrari and sous chef Kieran Farquhar, and has quickly struck an effective balance between camaraderie and efficiency with his brigade.
“They’re really good, hardworking lads with a good touch on the plate here,” he reveals. “We all gel, get on and have a laugh, and when it gets busy during service, everyone knuckles down and gets on with what they have to do. It’s a good environment to be in, and there’s a great relationship between the kitchen and front of house. We all get along and communicate well.
“I’m good to work for too; if you give me what I’d give you, and are prepared to work hard, then I’m as nice as I can be. It’s such a small kitchen here that I don’t want to separate myself or be distant, so have to be close to the team, but also ensure that the work gets done to a high standard.”
Following former head chef Bobby Brown, David’s keen to respect and continue the calibre of food that has put The Kentish Hare on the map over the last five years, while also putting his personal stamp on the menu. In addition, he’s implementing his own practices to make sure that every service runs like clockwork.
“Most of the menu’s changed completely,” he explains. “Whatever I like to eat, I try to include and work seasonally with. My dishes are veg-focused first, and then the meat is built in around that. I’m also mise en place-driven, so like to make service simple, clean and well-presented. There are more seasonal dishes that I want to put on, with lots of produce coming up that will be good to work with.”
As for James and Chris, the Tanner Brothers trust David implicitly, affording him the freedom to hit the ground running. And with a number of special dinners and events coming up this year, including our five-year anniversary in May and Pub in the Park in July, this talented head chef is excited for what’s to come, fully immersing himself as the captain of the ship at our award-winning pub.
“Consistency is key,” he concludes. “Everything has to be consistent, whether you’re sending out the easiest food possible, or the hardest, which is what I’m trying to instil in the boys here. If it’s not right, it goes back, and if it’s consistent, you’re onto a winner!”