Chef director Aaron has been delivering exceptional quality and creativity for Hambleton Hall since 1992. His menus, delivered with great consistency for 30 years, are always exciting and evolving. His dependability is evidenced by a Michelin star held since 1982 – the longest retained single star in the UK – and four AA rosettes, as well as recognition in The Good Food Guide and Harden’s.
Aaron credits his early career spent working with Raymond Blanc and Nick Gill as providing inspiration for his “true, classic British fine dining” (Hardens Guide).
He buys local game between August and February and uses his long-standing network of small suppliers for lamb, beef and pork year round. Fish arrives daily from Devon as well as East coast ports. Fruit and vegetables come from the hotel’s garden, the Fens and Rungis Market in Paris. Choosing to champion local produce with creative, precise cooking, he is widely recognised for his rigorous commitment. He writes his daily menus depending on what comes to the back door. With reassuring regularity, one of Aaron’s many foragers or farmers will pop their head through the kitchen door in person offering incredible ingredients from blewits and puffballs to salsify, apples or Jerusalem artichokes, quince or crab apples, sea vegetables or zander, woodcock or teal. Aaron will unite these new finds with existing combinations to create recipe evolutions each day. Dishes include breast of Merrifield duck with watermelon, feta and endive, grouse with blackberry sauce and traditional accompaniments, roast mallard with corn and a pie of its own leg meat, roast pheasant with Jerusalem artichoke and truffle, hare wellington with root vegetables and a prune and Armagnac sauce.
“The menu and my cooking style has evolved over the years, which has provided the motivation Charlie, James and I needed to stick together. I give my two head chefs Charlie and James and all my team enormous credit for their passion, their tireless quest for perfection and their unstinting dedication to creating beautiful food over the years.”
Head chef Charlie Jones joined Hambleton Hall 18 years ago at the age of 24. Having grown up in Warwickshire, he began working in local hotels which whet his appetite for the hospitality industry. Charlie embarked on a culinary arts diploma at Stratford upon Avon Catering College where his passion for the profession accelerated alongside a thirst to improve his skills, knowledge and experience. Former Savoy master chef and college lecturer Alan Deegan was Charlie’s first inspiration, followed by Auguste Escoffier, Marco Pierre White and Anton Mosimann whose traditional styles influenced the way young British chefs cooked.
Since joining Aaron at Hambleton Hall, he has revelled in the trials that a busy, daily Michelin service demands. Charlie is the first to acknowledge that a challenging role stretches a chef to create dishes at the absolute best of your ability, which brings great personal satisfaction. For Charlie this includes the joy of getting creative in the kitchen using the abundant fresh and local produce that is delivered each morning.
Charlie’s personal style is to be a creative but firm and fair leader. He takes enormous pride in the role he has played in the team who has retained a Michelin star for such a long time. He cites the proudest moment in his career as the day that Hambleton’s owner Tim Hart presented his promotion to Head Chef.
When he not cooking, Charlie loves scuba diving. One of his abiding foodie memories is hand diving for scallops and then preparing them simply with an orange and lemon glaze with soused fennel, all prepared on the boat immediately after the catch.
Growing up in Birmingham in an Anglo-Irish family, James Stone was heavily influenced by his mother’s family cooking style. A creative personality from an early age, it was when he was studying art that he realised he could combine his two artistic passions, which led him to completing his NVQ3 in Culinary Arts at the Birmingham College of Food.
Like Charlie, James joined Hambleton Hall 18 years ago and has found his career growth with the Hambleton kitchen intensely satisfying and incredibly rewarding. The creative side of his career has included long stints in the pastry section, rising to Head Pastry Chef for 4 years. It will come as no surprise that to this day his favourite ingredient to work with is chocolate!
Over the years James has created signature dishes including enduring favourite Hambleton’s Tiramisu, Hambleton’s Granny Smith and the newcomer White Peach Cheesecake. He is as proud of creating visually beautiful dishes himself, as he is of coaching his team how to achieve the same result. He takes enormous pride in watching the younger chefs perfect techniques and finished dishes to the same exacting standards.
Described as enthusiastic and happy at work by his team, his career highlight was being promoted to Head Chef. Having admired Aaron and Hambleton’s former sous chef Julian Carter (now co-owner of Hambleton Bakery) for years he feels that life has completed a full circle. When he joined as a pot washer and veg prep chef, he dreamed of achieving great things, and now looks forward to training and inspiring many young chefs in the years to come.