Meet the Chef - Will Devlin, The Curlew, Bodiam
PUBLISHED: 00:00 15 June 2020 | UPDATED: 09:24 15 June 2020
Named as a Chef to Watch in the Good Food Guide 2020, Will Devlin is the chef owner of The Curlew in Bodiam, East Sussex
What first inspired you to become a chef?
My mum. I’ve loved food and cooking since I was young but never realised or thought it could be a career. After I left school, I became a mechanic which is hard, dirty work and I wasn’t particularly happy. It was my mum who suggested I retrain and go to catering college which I did and absolutely loved it.
Which career moments are you most proud of?
Since training and working in restaurants in Kent and Michelin-starred kitchens in London, my dream has always been to have my own restaurant. Launching The Small Holding in 2018, just four days after my daughter was born, was one of the proudest moments of my life.
Do you have a signature dish?
No, I don’t, and I think it’s an impossible thing for any chef to choose, it would be like choosing your favourite child! We cook so seasonally at The Curlew and The Small Holding and our dishes change all the time depending on what’s growing and what’s good coming from the farm and our suppliers. Once a dish has been on the menu that’s it as we’re developing new dishes all the time and planning across the seasons.
What do you cook at home after a busy shift?
We work from 8am to midnight so usually the only thing I’m capable of doing at the end of a shift is opening a beer and maybe having some toast.
What’s in your fridge at the moment?
We have our own pigs at the farm which supply both The Curlew and The Small Holding, so I always have house-made charcuterie such as fennel seed salami and chorizo. There are also loads of Kent and Sussex cheeses, yoghurt and homemade butter and beers from Cellarhead Brewery and Pig & Porter. I also have my last few beers from Blue Hill Farm in New York State. Dan Barber at Blue Hill is a huge inspiration to me and everything we do at the restaurants and the farm.
What is your culinary guilty pleasure?
No food should be a guilty pleasure!
Where do you like to go to eat if you ever get out of the kitchen?
We love going down to the coast as a family and a favourite is the Blue Dolphin Fish & Chips in Hastings. They know our order without asking and are always really lovely to our baby daughter. The top place on my Sussex to-go list is Heritage by Matt Gillan in West Sussex.
Favourite Sussex delicacy?
If we’re down on the Sussex coast I always go foraging for sea vegetables and herbs such as sea aster, purslane and sea beat. My absolute favourite Sussex delicacy though is the Session IPA from Three Legs Brewery!