Berni Inn inspired Tom Kerridge’s Michelin-starred pub
Tom Kerridge, has done exceedingly well with his gastropub, The Hand and Flowers, seeing it flourish to become a two-Michelin star venue. But what most don’t know is that to achieve this, the chef took inspiration from his own childhood dining memories of the retro pub-restaurant chain, Berni Inn.
Established in 1955, the Berni Inn chain of restaurants epitomised a very British dining experience. Famed for its good value for money and warm atmosphere, the chain offered the public high-quality steak and other meat dishes in a restaurant setting. However, over the years, it morphed into a joke and became known for its limited menu, prawn cocktails and ‘half a chicken’ specials.
Considering this, that Kerridge cites the Berni Inn as his inspiration for The Hand and Flowers, the two Michelin stars become a lot more surprising. But even more surprising is that for the first year Kerridge worked out of the existing pub kitchen, with no gastronorm cabinets or stainless steel in sight.
Still, after 10 months in business, the pub was in possession of a shiny new Michelin star, prompting Kerridge to declare that you should never let anyone claim they can’t cook because they don’t have the newest kitchen. These are encouraging words for many chefs. By being thrifty and smart with their budget, by shopping around and visiting sites like https://www.fridgefreezerdirect.co.uk/, they can make their mark without breaking the bank.
Something old, something new
Despite the rather negative press, Tom Kerridge remembers the Berni Inn fondly as a place where his single-parent mother, could afford to take them a couple of times a year. He recalls how the staff always treated them as special guests, something he has incorporated in the idea behind The Hand and Flowers.
Likewise, the Berni Inn motto of offering good high-quality produce is something Kerridge has embraced. At the Berni Inn, the steak was the star, not a piece of mystery food disguised under sauces and toppings. His restaurant also focuses on produce-led, uncomplicated meals but with a twist. This trained chef has developed a love of the finer things in life and this is where his place and the Berni Inn differ. Salt-baked swede haggis tart with Wiltshire pork are now the standard fare, and don’t forget the bavarois for dessert.