Marc Hardiman, formerly of The Feathers at Woodstock, joins Bovey Castle as its new head chef. Inspired by his first head chef, Stuart McLeod, and an admirer of Marco Pierre White, Marc has worked as a chef throughout the South West of England, the Cotswolds and London for the last 13 years.
Marc Hardiman (Bristol, 1982) realised he wanted to work within the catering industry from a young age, following in the footsteps of a grandmother who was a confectioner and a grandfather who worked as a chef. Marc’s first years in the kitchen were spent at the Castle House Hotel in Hereford under Stuart McLeod, where he entered for a three month stage in 1999 and left after three years of covering the hotel’s various restaurants and food outlets.
Under McLeod’s guidance, Marc’s time at the Castle House Hotel proved to be formative in providing the extensive grounding he would need for his future career; he rose quickly from commis chef to chef de partie and cooked for some of the most prestigious TV celebrities of the day, while setting his culinary aspirations to the precision and flair of Marco Pierre White. Even at this early stage of his career, McLeod was exposing Marc to a world of television cooking and food shows that demanded meticulous presentation under testing circumstances.
As the most influential exponent of Marc’s cooking career, McLeod sent Marc to The Close Hotel in Tetbury in 2002 as a tactical decision to test his young protégé as sous chef. Eighteen months at The Close Hotel served to further enhance Marc’s expertise and his skills flourished in this environment, assisting the natural progression to his next cooking challenge – Nunsmere Hall. Here, the emphasis was firmly placed on ensuring quality across each of the hotel’s dining experiences, albeit on a scale that was wildly greater than anything that Marc had ever catered for.
Once again, McLeod foresaw the enormous potential for Marc at the Michelin-starred Charlton House Hotel and it was here that he moved to in 2005. As senior sous, Mark worked alongside head chef Simon Crannage and within the product development of Charlton House’s organic foods. Nominated by Simon Crannage, Marc was entered into the Gordon Ramsay Scholarship, becoming the youngest finalist in the competition and cooking for a television audience at The Restaurant Show.
In 2006, Marc was approached by Fishmore Hall, asking for his input towards the design and set up of a brand new kitchen, restaurant and staff. For the next six months, Marc divided his time between two different projects before working exclusively for the newly-emerging Fishmore Hall. Nine days after its launch in 2007, Fishmore Hall won two AA rosettes with the inspector’s recommendation that the restaurant be awarded a third on the next visit.
After two years at Fishmore Hall, Marc became the executive chef of The Barn Hotel in 2008 and responsible for overseeing the property’s numerous outlets, catering for 1000 people daily. The Feathers at Woodstock approached Marc in 2009 with the task of relaunching the hotel and restaurant, opening to the public again later that year with a new afternoon tea room and a gin bar with its own tasting menu, attracting acclaim from food and catering publications.
With the business rebuilt and the reputation of The Feathers revived through new investment and the buzz surrounding the Gin Experience, the search for a new cooking challenge began. Drawn to Bovey Castle by the hotel’s prestigious reputation and the phenomenal potential of local resources, Marc took control of the kitchen at the end of 2011 to oversee The Edwardian Grill and Castle Bistro.
Marc said: “Using and giving back to the local food community has become integral to dining at Bovey Castle; talking directly with suppliers has benefits from ensuring the hotel gets the best seasonal products every time, as well as highlighting the product’s provenance and food miles from field to plate.”