When you join us for food at the Bell Hotel, you can expect spectacular dishes created with fresh, local and quality ingredients. And that’s thanks to our head chef, Garry Cook. Here we sit down with the man himself to discuss his incredible career at some of Suffolk’s most distinguished Restaurants and discover how his farm to fork philosophy is shaping our new menu.

Garry, can you tell us a bit about your career so far?

I honed my skills working in country house hotels, before making my way up to exec sous chef at Hanbury Manor. From there I opened my own place, 152 in Aldeburgh, before becoming chef patron of the Crown Inn at Snape (For the last 13 years). All these experiences have taught me what it really means to create food that people love to eat.

You’re renowned for creating dishes packed with fresh and seasonal ingredients. Are there any chefs who have inspired your approach?

Absolutely. I’ve always admired Raymond Blanc and Tommy Banks. The way Tommy is influenced by what he calls the ‘rhythms of the land’ that he farms, and how that inspires the dishes he creates, is something that’s very close to my heart. I love the farm to fork philosophy, and I’ve always looked up to those chefs who grow and cook their own produce.

Will this philosophy shape your approach to creating the menu at the Bell Hotel?

Yes, yes, and yes. I mean, when people visit coastal Suffolk, it’s all about the sights and sounds of the local landscape and attractions, and the lovely scent of the sea air. At The Bell Hotel, I want to give people the chance to taste the local landscape too.

Any chance of a sneak peek at what’ll be on offer after the grand opening?

It will be a continuation of what I’ve always been passionate about! Modern British cuisine, with locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. I’ll let the freshness and quality of those ingredients do the talking for me!

Any hints your renowned signature dishes might make an appearance?

Well, the way I look at it, my signature dish depends on the season. Personally, I’m never happier picking the ingredients from my allotment, and putting them together with some of our home reared pork, or some locally caught fish. That’s as farm to fork as it gets, and nothing tastes better.

What do you have in store for our vegetarian and vegan diners?

We’re spoiled for amazing produce here in Suffolk, which means I’ve got so many options when it comes to creating plant-based options for diners. And even better, we can create incredible meat-free options in a low carbon, sustainable way. Great for the planet, but incredible for the taste buds too.

My approach when creating a menu is that meat and fish are just one element of a dish. That way, it’s easy to mix and match. When it comes to hearty home-made soup, fresh pasta and risotto dishes, for example, it’s so easy to be versatile, and that means there’s choices on the menu for everyone.

What do you love about Suffolk?

There’s no better place to be a chef, frankly. The incredible range of top-quality produce on offer here has shaped my own approach and continues to inspire me to this day. I mean, I’ve spent time in other places, I went to Australia for a while, but when I got the opportunity to come back, I jumped at the chance. This is the place for me, and the best place to be a chef, in my view.

Do you have good relationships with local suppliers?

Well, with one in particular, who happens to be my wife! She rears lambs and pigs, and they’ll be making a regular appearance on the menu. I’m lucky to have built a network of amazing local suppliers in the area, people I’ve worked with over the years, who I trust to bring me only the best ingredients for our diners. I love the daily deliveries that come to the kitchen door. Fresh catches, harvests and cuts of meat. It’s a great way to start the day, and I feel lucky that I get to turn ingredients of this quality into incredible meals for our guests.

Why do you think The Bell Hotel is going to be an unbeatable destination for diners?

There’s a really great group of people around me here. You won’t find a friendlier front of house team, or a more experienced kitchen staff. Whether you’re a foodie, rambler or hotel guest, I promise you a menu that will delight, astound and leave you with a big smile on your face.

Curious to find out more? Keep your eye on our dining page, where we’ll soon be unveiling Garry’s mouth-watering menu.