We caught up with our new head chef, Ben Hegarty, for an insight into his professional journey, style of food, and what diners at the White Lion can look forward to…
Ben Hegarty joins the White Lion with a wealth of experience behind him. Working through the ranks of commi chef, chef de partie and sous chef, he joins our restaurant and hotel here on the Suffolk coast having spent the last five years with the TA Hotel Collection. Ben told us about his journey so far:
“It all started for me as a commi chef at The Westleton Crown, which is just down the road from here. It was where I was first introduced to a professional kitchen and began to learn my trade."
After his time as commi chef at The Westleton Crown and then four years at the Huntington Marriott, a highly-regarded hotel and restaurant, he landed a job at award-winning gastro pub, The Pheasant at Keyston, which he explains was a big moment for him and his career:
“My time at The Pheasant at Keyston was really important for me. It was where I really started to understand and learn about the quality of ingredients, and also style in cooking”.
Taking his valued experience from The Pheasant, Ben moved to the Suffolk coast marking the start of his professional life with the TA Hotel Collection, and was where he first met Justin Kett, then head chef of our sister hotel, The Brudenell.
“I joined the Brudenell as a junior sous chef under head chef Justin Kett. I learnt a lot from him and when he was offered the head chef position at The Swan at Lavenham (TA Hotel Collection), offered to take me with him. I’ve was there for the past three years as senior sous chef."
Now at The White Lion, Ben is very much settling into his first head chef position, putting together his kitchen team and implementing his stamp on our food offering.
“It’s going really well and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. We’re still in the transitional period; putting the team together and making sure everyone is on the same page as me and my food, but we’re certainly almost there. The food is where we want it to be and I’m excited by the new menus.”
“I wouldn’t say I have an outright style, such as ‘Great British’ or ‘French Classic’. My food is hearty, with subtle influences from a mix of cultures across the world, whether it’s oriental or Mediterranean.”
Ben’s new menu
features special dishes, locally sourced from the land and sea, such as confit Dingley Dell pork belly, and steamed river Deben mussels with creamy garlic and white wine sauce. He has also introduced a new afternoon tea and tapas menu
, with light bites for those seeking an alternative to the traditional afternoon tea here in Aldeburgh.
Ben is certainly a chef with a great future ahead of him, and one we’re proud to have on board.