Celebrity chef Tom Kerridge shares top tips to find the best pub ahead of Surrey Pub in the Park

-Credit: (Image: Getty Images Europe)
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images Europe)


TV celebrity chef, owner of Michelin-starred restaurants, and Surrey neighbour since 2005 when he opened The Hand and Flowers in Marlow, Tom Kerridge, has revealed what people should look for when choosing the best pubs to visit for lunch, dinner, or simply a drink. It comes after the Gloucestershire-born restaurateur sat down with SurreyLive ahead of Pub in the Park’s return to Reigate.

Tom has spent much of his life in chef whites or with an apron on after studying at culinary school in Cheltenham from the age of 18. This was before he moved to London where he developed his skillset and later became the head chef of Adlards - a Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant serving modern British food.

Now 50, Tom has since branched out to open top-rated restaurants of his own in both the capital and Buckinghamshire, including the only UK pub to gain two Michelin Stars, The Hand and Flowers. He is also the driving force behind the popular food and music festival, Pub in the Park, now in its ninth year and returning to Reigate for the second time with Eutorvision’s Sam Ryder, icons McFly, and Gabrielle among headliners.

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A good pub should have character, fresh food, and make visitors feel relaxed and at ease, Tom told SurreyLive. This is what he said he looks for on a visit himself and what he strives to offer in his own restaurants, and for guests at Pub in the Park.

“Pubs have got that kind of wonderful world of gastropubs that has grown and changed over the last 15 to 20 years,” Tom said. “We now expect pretty much every local pub to have seasonal produce that is cooked beautifully using fresh ingredients.

“And that’s a great place to be. It’s not just stuff that’s come from the fryer and the freezer, it’s local produce that’s cooked fresh and it’s super tasty.”

Pub in the Park will return to Reigate for three days this July -Credit:PAUL GILLIS / Reach PLC
Pub in the Park will return to Reigate for three days this July -Credit:PAUL GILLIS / Reach PLC

The Marco Pierre White-inspired chef then elaborated on what, to him, indicates a stand-out pub worth the time to stay in - a good point of reference for your next Surrey Hills ramble. He recommended: “You look for a warm welcome, you look for places that are comfortable.

“Particularly at this time of the year, you want a beer garden and somewhere you can sit outside.” Tom added: “All of those sorts of things really do seem important. Spaces that locals use, where there is a vibe and a sense of belonging, that’s all really important to create that perfect pub environment.”

He continued: “There’s always that sense of casual dining you want to get that you want to get across, where people feel comfortable. You haven’t got to dress up to go to the pub, but that still shouldn’t be an excuse to have rubbish food and poor service.

“You can still have great refreshments and be wearing a T-shirt and shorts. It doesn’t matter.” Tom outlined this is what he hopes people take away from their own experiences at his events.

Pub in the Park takes place in Reigate’s Priory Park from Friday, July 12 to Sunday, July 14 and will see the likes of Mel C and Levi Roots alongside headliners on stage, as well as cookery demonstrations from Matt Tebbutt and Simon Rimmer. Tom also teased that Cue Point - a “delicious” Afghan BBQ space - is one of 10 restaurant options for foodies that is not to miss.

The 50-year-old described that last time Pub in the Park visited Reigate there was a “brilliant” energy and atmosphere that meant it was a “no-brainer” for him to return. “[Pub in the Park] tries to make that really relaxed vibe and that family feel, particularly during the day,” Tom said.

“It’s not too boozy because it gets into the spirit with lots and lots of food. The main process is we wanted to be this food-led festival that’s got the music alongside it. There is cookery demonstrations across two different stages, there’s a firepit space, and on top of that there are Q&As, there’s a book club kind of place where people can have conversations with food writers.

“All of those types of things tie in really nicely with that foodie world that people really enjoy being a part of. And then you get lots of amazing dishes cooked by brilliant chefs and great restaurants."

Pub in the Park Reigate tickets

Dates:

  • Friday, July 12 to Sunday, July 14

Line-up:

Friday - Sam Ryder

Saturday afternoon - Mel C

Saturday night - McFly

Sunday - Gabrielle, Scouting for Girls, Hoosiers, Jay Rayner

Where: Priory Park, Reigate

Tickets:

  • There are a range of sessions to choose from throughout the weekend. General admission on Saturday night is sold out but VIP tickets and Pitmaster Bar tickets are still available.

  • Ticket cost from £27.50 (Saturday daytime) or from £33 on Friday and Sunday. Weekend passes start from £88 for children and £137.50 for adults. More info here or book tickets here

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