Chef profile: The Hoop at Stock
PUBLISHED: 10:59 13 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:51 20 February 2013
THE HOOP at Stock is a pretty building on the High Street which is famous for its beer festival in May,' writes Stephanie Mackentyre...
THE HOOP at Stock is a pretty building on the High Street which is famous for its beer festival in May,' writes Stephanie Mackentyre.
The festival has been running for more than 20 years and each year attracts a crowd of 3,000 real ale fans, some from the continent.
Head chef, Phil Utz, elaborates: 'It's a crazy time. We actually close the restaurant during the ten days it's on.'
Michelle, Phil's partner, organises the whole thing, she begins the massive ordering process in January, arranging for 400 beers and 200 ciders to be delivered for the start of the festival on May 22. Two AA Rosette head chef Phil's in charge of the outside barbecue to keep the hordes well fed as well as watered.
Dream come true
The couple met while working together in the kitchen of a large hotel. Phil had since moved to another inn in Stock and was offered The Hoop lease to purchase. 'I had always wanted my own restaurant,' says Phil. 'I wasn't sure about the pub side, but now I'm really glad we decided to take it over.'
Michelle joined him to run the front of house side of the business. The building is more than 450 years old and full of gorgeous, rustic beams. Originally three weaver's cottages in the 15th century, it was converted to the traditional ale house it is today.
The restaurant is on the first floor although if you fancy something a little less formal, pop downstairs for a good selection of stews, pies, fish and curry all made on the premises.
When I visited both menus had game on offer as many of their regular customers are game shooters. To begin our lunch Phil served home-cured salmon gravlax with a dill and mustard mayo and fresh pink salmon.
Our main course was a meaty feast, locally-shot partridge, game sausages on a peppery pureed carrot, game chips and homemade bread sauce with smoked bacon all sat on top of a crouton base steeped in the seared juices of the freshly-cooked meats.
Dessert saw the lightest pastry case surrounding a traditional egg custard with a dollop of vanilla ice cream on top.
Phil and Michelle have built up a strong following both for their fine food and great selection of beers. They are content now to build on their firm foundations, as Phil explains: 'It's all about consistency. We work with the staff to ensure each meal is as good as the last for each of our visitors.'
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