With his nose pressed up as close to the oven door as he dares, a young Phil Verden watches his mother’s Yorkshire Puddings rise higher and higher, wondering just how she manages it. Today, Phil attends to his own batches of bread, Yorkshires and soufflés as they expand in his oven at the multi award-winning Lord Poulett Arms Pub in Hinton St. George, where he is Head Chef.
Advised to do A-levels following a great set of exam results, Phil ignored everyone, instead choosing to pursue his dream of becoming a chef. Straight off to catering college, he managed to cram twice the amount of courses into one year, qualifying early. Then he wrote to every hotel advertising in a catering magazine asking for a job, with only one response; from The St Andrew’s Golf Course in Scotland. Undeterred, he undertook the 12-hour train journey for his interview, fortunately getting the job. His 18th birthday was spent peeling potatoes, no time to party and no cards as there was a postal strike. But Phil didn’t care, he was learning the French Classics from the best.
Moving on, Phil has worked for some of the best country house hotels in the country. Working his way up through the kitchen ranks he settled at Summer Lodge in Evershot for 10 years as Head Chef then brought his extensive culinary knowledge to Lord Poulett. Still very much a local’s drinking pub there are also elegantly furnished rooms to stay in. Phil is passionate about his food being more accessible, focussing on local English produce.
When he does have a day off, he looks after his sons, Kitt; two and Fynn; five years old. Soon, when both boys are occupied during term time, he aspires to go on a pottery course so he can create some earthenware-style platters on which to present his celebrated food.