There is a new face in the kitchen of Wisbech’s prestigious Rose and Crown Hotel and he is aiming to cook up a storm in a bid to tickle local taste buds.
James Tea has returned to his Fenland roots to join the team at the hotel, which has served the town and its visitors for over 600 years, and he is hoping to create a “new buzz” about the place with menus that not only taste good but don’t break the bank.
And Citizen readers will be able to enjoy some of James culinary skills themselves as he joins our team too to write a regular cookery column starting later this month.
James, who has worked around the world, including several years in Florence, Italy, as a head chef was born and brought up in Wisbech. He attended the former Gordon Fendick School (now The Orchards) as well as the former Queens Boys School before joining the Isle College to study for his City and Guilds.
He started his working life at the highly regarded Hambleton Hall on Rutland Water and has also worked in London.
James, who was welcomed to the Rose and Crown on Wednesday by owner Jim Farrelly, said his love of cooking comes from his grandmother Lillian Tea, who he said made the best cakes and was an excellent baker.
He learnt many of skills from helping her in the kitchen during his childhood using ingredients grown on the family allotments.
And he is hoping to use local produce as much as possible in his menus at the Rose and Crown.
He will be launching two new menus one for lunchtime and one for the evening, and both he says will not only be tasty but will also offer healthy Mediterranean-influenced food.
James will be totally hands-on in the kitchen.
“I believe that to ensure you have the best standards you must lead from the front, and I will be working every day to produce the food we serve in the hotel. We have a fantastic setting here, this used to be ‘the’ place to be in the 1960s and 70s and I want to recreate that again. I want this place to be buzzing, and I know we can do that, by serving top quality food, at reasonable prices. I want to use seasonal produce and change the menu monthly to keep it fresh. This is a great opportunity for me and for the Rose and Crown,” said James, who was due to start work on Thursday.
Jim agreed and hopes the new chef will bring renewed fortunes for the hotel, which he said suffered after news that he had put it on the market was made public last year.
“That really hit us hard. But we are still here, and we intend to continue to be here. We want people to make use of this beautiful hotel for all their social functions,” he said.