The new owner of Michelin-starred restaurant Paris House started his career on Junior Masterchef when he was just 15 years old.
Phil Fanning, was sadly pipped to the post as the winner but he has since wowed many with his cooking skills, and now is the proud owner of his first restaurant,
He joined the Woburn fine dining restaurant in 2010 as head chef and within his first year he had earned the restaurant its first Michelin star.
It is now the only restaurant in Bedfordshire to boast a cooking acolade.
After three years of working as head chef, Phil. 32, bought the restaurant with his wife Claire at the start of this year.
And he invited the Times & Citizen down to try out the food for ourselves.
So on Friday I took up the invitation, and dragged along my partner who didn’t seem to mind accompanying me on this trip.
We arrived in the beautiful grounds of Paris House and were walking to the restaurant when a waiter came to meet us outside.
He took us inside where we sat in a beautiful waiting area. We were given a glass of wine and some delicious canapes of haggis, battered duck tongue and salmon wrapped in jelly. All of which were very nice - even if they do sound a bit odd. They definitely got our taste buds tingling.
We were then told we would be dining with the chef to get a full interactive experience, which was great fun.
Customers can opt for this for a supplement charge.
You must be confident in your ability to let the public in your kitchen, and cooking team did not disappoint.
Phil introduced us to all the chefs who were working on different dishes. There was one side preparing the cold dishes and the other were working on the hot meals.
You expect a kitchen of a busy restaurant on a Friday night to be slightly Gordon Ramsey-esque full of swearing rushing about and stress.
But this kitchen was completely relaxed. Phil took charge of the operation with ease and his attention to detail was second to none.
All of the chefs were working diligently, but despite working hard they all managed to have a laugh with each other, despite the pressures of working in a busy hot kitchen serving up Michelin-star food.
We decided to opt for the Bedfordshire Finest Menu, which offered six taster courses. You look at the menu and you think this is an odd mix of flavours, but they really do work.
The first course was cured trout with rhubarb with nasturtium rapeseed oil. I am a fish lover so I loved this course, the flavour added a real zing to the trout.
Next up was the smoked hens egg ravioli with celeriac, Ben’s bacon and black pudding. I think this was one of my favourite courses, the black pudding was delicious, as was the mushroom flavours.
Then we had the Bedfordshire snail garden, mad up of Aylesbury snails with chicory, onion and local herbs. The snails were really nice, but I found the flavours a little too bitter for my taste.
Phil explained this was a controversial dish that customers either love or hate.
Then we had the Woburn venison with nut brown broccoli and Bedford’s valerio ricotta. I’m not a fan of ricotta, but the venison was cooked to perfection.
Next was wild chervil a cold dish to clean our pallets ready for desert.
And boy was that a desert - probably the nicest cheescake I have ever tasted. It was ivy honey and blackcurrent cheesecake. Blackcurrent and beetroot cheescake with Wally’s Ivy honey and oats.
It was beautiful, the beetroot was wrapped around the cheese and the biscuit base was broken up between the rhubarb and blackcurrents. It was amazing.
All of the ingredients, except for the snails, are sourced in Bedfordshire. Phil told me he makes sure he only uses the best ingredients and searched far and wide for them.
All the courses are small but because there are so many of them you certainly leaving feeling quite full.
Paris House is beautiful. the food is sublime, and Phil is the perfect host.If you haven’t tired it yet, make you sure the pay them a visit.