Food Theatre

From making the perfect strawberry jam and the secrets to successful desserts to Mediterranean, Greek and Spanish classics with a twist. Showcasing produce from the New Forest, there is something for every budding home chef.

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Our Local Legends Chef Line Up

Alex Aitken
Proprietor of The Jetty and Consultant Director of Harbour Hotels

Alex’s culinary journey started on the seas as a trawlerman where he gained unparalleled knowledge of fish and seafood. He opened his first restaurant Le Poussin in 1983. Championing simple seasonal and local produce from the very beginning, he has received multiple awards and accolades to support this philosophy.

Highcliffe Food and Arts Festival 2024

James Golding
chef/owner of Nomadic Sporadic Supper Clubs and Tuscany events

James is the chef/owner of Nomadic Sporadic Supper Clubs and Tuscany events. He is also head of food education for the Table Talk Foundation. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts and the Food Ambassador for the New Forest Marque & Dorset Food & Drink. James has appeared on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, and hosts the fortnightly podcast, Always In Season, in partnership with Maple From Canada.

colin nash
Proprietor of The Retreat Restaurant, Hinton

Colin is renowned for his relentless pursuit of innovation in his kitchen and is one of the most exciting chefs in Dorset and has won many awards. Having taken over The Retreat Restaurant and cookery school he prides himself on promoting seasonal local produce in all his menus.

Patricia Nunes
holistic chef and founder of Nature Synergies Kitchen Studio

Patricia Nunes, a holistic chef and founder of Nature Synergies Kitchen Studio (launched in November 2023), provides a creative and inclusive hub for chefs, educators, health professionals, and conscious brands to share their expertise. With a wealth of experience in the food industry, she teaches aspiring natural chefs at the College of Naturopathic Medicine and promotes food fermentation and its benefits through her educational initiative ‘A Flora Kitchen Project.’ Patricia’s work exemplifies the power of natural foods and holistic health, inspiring others to cultivate their best selves and share their knowledge.

ishmael pajaro
area chef for the Heartwood collection

Ismael has been working in hospitality for 27 years. After training and working in Spain he came to the UK in 2012 and has spent the last 11 years at Brasserie Blanc, The White Brassarie Company, and Le Manoir aux Aqat’Saisons working for Chef Retwell, Raymond Blanc, Gary Jones and Benoit Blin.

For the past six years he has area Chef for Brasserie Blanc Company, now the Heartwood Collection, where he looks after six restaurants across the South of the UK including BB Chichester, BB Winchester, BB Portsmouth, The Britannia Parkstone, BB Bournemouth and of course The Oaks Highcliffe.

Luke Phillips
Sous Chef at The Chewton Glen

Luke Phillips is a Chewton Glen home-grown talent and has risen through the ranks of the kitchen to Sous Chef. Luke trained at Bournemouth & Poole College on a three-year Advanced Specialised Chef Apprenticeship. He shot to fame last year when he took part in BBC’s MasterChef – The Professionals where he reached the semi-finals, a result he is immensely proud of. However, fame has not altered his love of being part of the kitchen brigade at Chewton Glen: “There’s never a dull moment, it’s just great to work in a friendly environment where young chefs can learn and develop their skills” he says.

Sue Quinn
Sue is an award winning food writer

Sue is an award winning food writer, cookbook author and journalist who lives with her family in Bournemouth. Her articles and recipes regularly appear in the UK’s leading food publications including the Telegraph, Sunday Times, Guardian and BBC Good Food. She has won the Guild of Food Writers award for her work on British Food and Fortnum and Mason’s on line Food Writer award. Born in Australia she began her career as a news reporter before moving to London. She has published fourteen cookery books.

Lesley Walters Joins Highcliffe Food and Arts Festival 2024


Lesley was originally head tutor at Leith’s cookery school in London, but made her name as a regular on the original series of Ready Steady Cook. Having fallen in love with Dorset and the wonderful produce available here over twenty five years ago, she now lives in Shaftesbury and is running a very popular cookery school based at her home.

Jennifer Williams

Jennifer is an accomplished culinary arts chef and owns her own artisan jam company alongside a foraging and cooking school. She frequently joins the panel of other esteemed judges around the world and has had the opportunity to judge for the International Trade Institute in Brussels, The International Academy of Chocolate Awards and the UK Bartenders Guild. Her jam made under her company name ‘Naked Jam’ is used in some of the leading 5* star restaurants in the country.

Kerry Witt
Master Chocolatier – ‘Chocolates by Miss Witt’

Kerry Witt trained in Patisserie at Brockenhurst College and later at Southampton City College, where she received Student of the Year for Patisserie. In 2012 Kerry established ‘Chocolate by Miss Witt’ and has received many awards including from the Guild of Fine Food Great Taste award for her Blackcurrant & Star Anise Chocolate and many of her other creations at the World-renowned Academy of Chocolate, London. Kerry runs workshops throughout the year from her HQ in Hordle.

Liz Hagger
Head chef Flavours cookery school, Pokesdown

Liz Hagger worked as a chef lecturer for ten years at Bournemouth and Poole catering college. She is now head chef at Flavours cookery school owned by Five Rivers, a social enterprise that supports the teaching of food to those in need. They also offer courses to children and adults from all backgrounds. Liz has always had a passion for food, and the love the community it builds.

The Lord Bute Restaurant, Highcliffe

Bradley’s took over the 2 star AA Lord Bute restaurant last autumn. His career began at the prestigious Il Bottaccio in London’s Grosvenor Place, followed by a stint alongside Marco Pierre White in St James, where he carved out a unique culinary identity. He later went on to set up his own franchised restaurant chain ‘Greens’, accumulating 16 awards and also was the preferred chef for the Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club.