Tom Kerridge’s pub The Hand and Flowers might have won two Michelin stars, but it’s actually inspired by the retro pub-restaurant chain, Berni Inn.
For those now scratching their heads, the chain was founded by brothers Frank and Aldo Berni in 1955 and specialised in steak. The company was sold to Whitbread in the Nineties where the name was ditched and the restaurants were relaunched as part of the Beefeater chain.
Tom, 44, has fond memories of his childhood trips to his local Berni Inn. He reflects with Paul Ainsworth, who owns the Michelin-starred ‘Paul Ainsworth at Number 6’ in Padstow, about when his mum, who was a single parent, used to take him there and he’d have half a roast chicken with peas.
They would only visit around twice a year, but these meals clearly left an impression on Tom, who insists that his award-winning pub is a “modern day, more refined” version of Berni Inn.
The Hand and Flowers came from humble beginnings. Some 12 years ago, Tom set up shop with just one fridge, a six-ring hob, double fryer, a solid top and a grill.
“We won a Michelin star in 10 months,” he tells Paul, proudly. “So if anybody tells you, ‘I haven’t got the right equipment’ or ‘I haven’t got the right ovens’, it’s rubbish.”
Nowadays, Tom’s dishes are “produce-led, not overcomplicated and letting things speak for themselves”. But that’s not to say they aren’t fancy.
In the above episode of ‘The Chefs’ Chefs’ he shows Paul how to make salt-baked swede haggis tart; tenderloin of Wiltshire pork with pickled cabbage, garlic sausage, malted cheek beignet and mustard mayo; and passionfruit and white chocolate bavarois with honeycomb and dark chocolate sorbet.
It’s no wonder that Paul describes the pub as a “game-changer”.
“I think you’re world class,” Paul tells Tom. “I think everything you do is incredible.”