The Tanner Brothers on Their Award-Winning Pub The Kentish Hare
C&TH meets the duo behind one of the UK's most beloved pubs
The Kentish Hare in Bidborough, Kent, is the third restaurant where celebrated chefs Chris and James, AKA The Tanner Brothers, have made a mark. A local pub down on its heel before being saved by local resident Lady Maureen Mills, who undertook the initial renovation and contacted Chris and James in the hope of sparking their interest, it has recently been awarded in the top five of the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs in the UK.
The Kentish Hare is a much-loved hostelry, serving the community with social events and garnering a wider following for beautifully considered dishes such as Ross cob chicken with king cabbage, turnip, hazelnut and tarragon and Cornish pollack with leeks maitake, agretti and vermouth sauce.
Following a childhood dream of owning and operating their own restaurant, The Tanner Brothers launched Tanners in Plymouth in 1999 (picking up AA restaurant of year 2007/08 for England), along the way followed by the hugely popular Barbican Kitchen housed in the Plymouth Gin Distillery. They have made numerous TV appearances including The Tanner Brothers on UKTV Food, Ready, Steady, Cook and as regulars on James Martin’s Saturday Morning and Lorraine. We caught up with Chris and James at The Kentish Hare.
Q&A with Chris and James Tanner
Why did you decide on The Kentish Hare?
We could see massive potential at the venue. It just had the right feel. Also it’s in the county we were born in and we just clicked with it.
Where do you source ingredients?
We of course try to use as much local produce as we can, but because of our South West business we can cut out the middle man, for example, and get the freshest of fish sent up to the pub.
Who influenced you in your early cooking days?
For Chris it was the Roux Brothers, Albert and Michel, who were most influential. For James, it was Martin Blunos whose two-star Michelin restaurant was ahead of its time.
Who is tapping at your heels?
The next generation of cooks is extremely important to us and always has been in the last 24 years of business. We have had great success with our apprenticeship programme over the years, many of which have stayed in touch and we’re always at the end of a phone for any advice required.
Off-duty cooking favourites?
At home it can vary to be honest, depending on how much time allows. We both have outside BBQ’s which are brilliant for slow cooked lamb shoulder and char-grilled vegetables or Asian inspired fish dishes. Our favourite snacks vary, anything from baked camembert to beans on toast.
It has been a tough couple of years for the restaurant industry, and our plans are to maintain our consistency – something we’ve been trying to do for 24 years.
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