Take Three Chefs

Take Three Chefs

There’s some clever cheffing going on at Ideal Collection. Not one to sit still, this local hospitality group, comprising an intriguing selection of individual pubs and cafes, hit the refresh button with the appointment of two highly respected chefs just before lockdown. Chris Heather (right) came in as Executive Chef while Sam Pearson (centre) took over as Head Chef of The White Horse, a charming village pub in Otterbourne. Recently they were joined by Luke Stradling (left), now Head Chef of The Bugle, a characterful historic waterside pub in Hamble. The group also includes Kimbridge Barn near Romsey and The Boat House Cafes in Chichester and Swanwick Marinas.

Chris Heather is well known in local food industry circles. He garnered recommendations from the likes of The Michelin Guide and The Good Food Guide while he was Head Chef for six years at The Greyhound on the Test, Stockbridge. Before that he worked for Michelin-starred JSW in Petersfield and The (original) Ivy in London. Sam Pearson comes with credentials from the New Forest’s Careys Manor and Balmer Lawn. Luke Stradling joins via Lainston House and Marwell Hotel, both near Winchester.

Together this talented trio are rolling out exciting new autumnal and festive menus that focus on quality local produce. The vision is to create dishes and a dining experience to tempt people out. There will still be classy pub classics (such as beer-battered haddock, steak and chips, and bangers and mash), but otherwise specials and a la carte menus turn the tables on the expectations of pub food.

This new generation of chefs are on top of their game, and enthusiastic about working for a group with a reputation for taking care of staff and visitors - evident in the calm and efficient service and beautiful platefuls of food.

Chris is known for confident razzle dazzle dishes with bold combinations. He enjoys the liveliness of kitchen life and his vision for Ideal Collection is bringing on board even more quality local produce, and plates that tempt all the senses.

Sam loves the creativity of cooking, the freedom to do something no one else has done before and make a dish your own. He is influenced by both the quality of local produce and his travels to Vietnam, Cambodia and Australia – which directly inspired Mussels in Ginger and Lemongrass Broth on the White Horse menu. Yet more delicious dishes include Jerk Chicken flavoured with coriander and lime, and Confit Pork Fritter with Harrisa.

Luke has a background in fine dining and is excited to be recreating The Bugle as a destination for a great meal out combined with that comfortable, warm, relaxed pub feel. Luke’s innovative approach to food can be seen in Rabbit Terrine with Hazelnut Mayonnaise and Poached Pear; Roasted cod with Butternut Puree and Confit Pickle; and his signature starter - celeriac baked in a salt crust, plus pickled blackberries and gruyere finished with caramelised white chocolate.

Luke says, “You’ve got earthiness, you’ve got rich, you’ve got sharp pickle… all those flavours on your palate! I try to keep to basic flavours, but add that twist to give an element to the dish that gets people talking and gets people coming back…”

A great value festive menu includes Chris’ accomplished White Soy Cured ChalkStream Trout, plus an updated Roasted Breast of Turkey served with Confit Leg, Chestnuts, Pancetta and all the trimmings, followed by a selection of Hampshire cheeses with grape chutney.


Oliver Weeks of Ideal Collection, comments: “These very talented chefs are taking food experiences at Ideal Collection to the next level. It’s very exciting!”


Ideal Collection are also developing an events programme including pizza evenings, markets, workshops and more. Check out their website HERE.