Shaun Hill is one of the UK’s most enduringly successful chefs. After nearly 50 years as a chef he is still found in the kitchen every day managing his own section and overseeing every dish that goes out to the restaurant.
Often referred to as ‘a chef’s chef’ - Times critic Jonathan Meades has called Hill 'a truly great chef’ while Jancis Robinson described him as “ as ‘one of the most respected British restaurants of the past decade” and Tom Kerridge claiming him as ‘an inspiration’. Hill describes himself as ‘the rough side of Michelin’, his plates reject precise, laboured arrangements but demonstrates his innate understanding of ingredients, prepared with a restrained hand in his timeless and distinctive style. Over the years, his travels around the world have inspired tweaks to classical recipes, unusual combinations of ingredients and new cooking techniques.
Hill has arrived at The Walnut Tree Inn in 2008, having been a regular customer when it was under the ownership of the celebrated chef Franco Taruschio. The Walnut Tree had fallen on hard times for a few years after Franco left and new owner, William Griffiths, of sister establishment The Angel Hotel, Abergavenny had plans to return it to its former glory recruiting his former boss, Shaun Hill to take the helm.
He began his career in 1966 working for Robert Carrier at his restaurant in Islington and going on to some of London’s most prestigious restaurants including The Gay Hussar in Soho, The Capital Hotel in Knightsbridge with Brian Turner and Blakes in South Kensington. In the 1990s Shaun was Head Chef at Gidleigh Park in Devon for nine years, gaining his first Michelin Star and a reputation as one of the key players in the Modern British food movement of the late 80s fusing local, seasonal produce with global influences.
In 1994 Shaun and his wife Anja opened the much missed The Merchant House in Ludlow, quickly gaining a Michelin Star and being hailed as the 14th best in the world, and placing Ludlow firmly on the world’s gastronomic map. During his 10 years at the Merchant House Shaun was the sole member of the kitchen brigade, creating a ‘market-based’ menu, with the best produce available each day. Acclaimed dishes included calves’ sweetbreads, steamed lobster with chickpeas and coriander and Wild duck with celeriac and morels.
The Merchant House closed in 2005 when Hill felt he had achieved all he could in that small kitchen. Shaun become a restaurant consultant alongside writing recipe columns for The Telegraph and The Guardian and publishing four successful books. He was drawn back to the kitchen by the opportunity to breathe new life into the much-loved Walnut Tree Inn - a challenge that 22 years on he has more than succeeded in doing.