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tables, and it can be wholesome and honest,
but also rened and precise."
Kerridge was born in Salisbury in 1973
and started out in restaurants when he was
18, working as a kitchen porter. He became
hooked immediately. "I bought into it straight
away. It wasn't a love of food but the kitchen
environment that I loved. Most other
18-year-olds wanted to be out on a Friday
and Saturday night, but I liked the idea of
being slightly removed from society, with
people who are good fun and hard working."
It was a similarly alternative outlook on
life - and a similar sense of self-belief - that
attracted him to Beth, who is a sculptor.
The Hand and Flowers opened in 2005 and
the next three years were, Kerridge admits,
di¢cult for the marriage. Not only were he
and Beth living and working together, but she
had put her art on hold to run the business
and take care of front of house. Then ve
years ago Beth broke her leg and, after eight
weeks away from the pub recovering, she
stopped working there full time, although
she still monitors the cash £ow.
Kerridge says it was always the aim for
Beth to return to sculpture full time. "We
didn't open The Hand and Flowers to win
two Michelin stars or to be on television.
We did it so we could have a business that
allowed Beth to make uncompromised
art that was a free-£ow form of what she
wanted to express, instead of making
commissioned art. Her career is as important
to me as my own. The art scene is a
LOSE 12 STONE THE
KERRIDGE WAY"I work in an industry full of people
who work hard and play hard. I built
a reputation of always being the last
man standing at any awards do and
I thought, you know what, I'm nearly
40 - what am I doing here?
Knocking beer on the head made
the biggest dierence. I've been
completely teetotal for 18 months
now. I've also knocked carbs on the
head and I swim every day.
The rst three months of no booze
are quite di¢cult, but not drinking is
more socially acceptable now. And it
means you can drive home."
clockwise from bottom
left: fried whitebait;
Nick Beardshaw, Tom
and Aaron Mulliss; sea
bream; The Hand and
Flowers dining room
completely dierent world. I'm not the person
that I am in the food world, I'm the husband
of this amazing person, and it's nice to be able
to take a back seat and watch something that
is going so well."
The success of The Hand and Flowers - it
won its rst Michelin star in 2006 within a year
of opening, and its second in 2012 - has
opened up opportunities in other ways.
A second Marlow pub, The Coach, opened
last December, and Kerridge's increased
commitments have meant a greater role for
Aaron Mulliss, head chef at The Hand and
Flowers, and Nick Beardshaw, head chef at
The Coach. "I'm 42 this year. These guys are
in their early thirties, so they're the same age
as I was when I opened The Hand. Because
of the structure and the hard work that Beth
and I have put in, they have a wonderful
opportunity and a support system to drive
things forward and be their own people."
Keeping it local
Kerridge says the fact he only does "one or
two services a week at The Hand" means
that Mulliss can ensure the level of day-today
consistency that is vital when Saturday
night diners have booked 12 months in
advance and arrive with 12 months' worth
of expectations. Meanwhile the idea for The
Coach came about because those waits for
a table meant that many locals had given up
on trying to get in to The Hand and Flowers,
which is not a problem at the no-bookings
Coach. "We're about 60 to 80 per cent local
customers at The Coach," Kerridge says.
The aim of The Coach was to create "a
modern-day local pub" that re£ected the PHOTOS: LAURIE FLETCHER, REX FEATURES