Chef-137One of the North East’s most anticipated hotels has strengthened its team with the appointment of a new executive chef.

The Crowne Plaza Newcastle – Stephenson Quarter has appointed experienced chef Chris Wood to head up a team of 20 chefs and kitchen porters at its brassiere Hawthorns and The GIN Bar. The team will also provide meals for room service and catering for events.

Chris joins Crowne Plaza Newcastle, which is based in the city’s Stephenson Quarter, from a management role at Apartment Group. He moved to the region 10 years ago with his wife in pursuit of a successful career in the hospitality industry, with former roles including working his way from chef de partie to head chef at Alnwick Castle and head chef at Eshott Hall and Ednham House, which were awarded two rosettes for fine dining. The self-confessed family man now has a passion for the North East, its heritage and local food producers after settling in Seahouses and becoming a father to two children.

Chris, 32, said: “I’m passionate about being in the kitchen and using the best fresh and locally sourced ingredients to create fantastic dishes for people to enjoy. The great thing about the Crowne Plaza Newcastle is that we’re encouraged to be imaginative with the menus. As we’re independently run, it’s not a standard branded hotel and we have been able to mix a lot of the local identity into everything we do.

“We have sourced some of the best local salmon from Robsons of Craster to be used in dishes such as the smoked salmon starter, which also includes North Sea crab. My favourite thing on the menu is The GIN Bar’s farmers supper platter, which includes Turnbulls of Alnwick pork pie, pulled ham & Doreen’s black pudding press, mortadella, nettle cheese, Yorkshire blue, glazed butchers sausage, pease pudding, onion jam and Geordie bakers bread. Diners can also look forward to speciality foods such as North Yorkshire venison saddle.”

Chris began his career in the kitchen at only 14 during a part time job at a local restaurant in his native Essex. He began his education at the Colchester Institute, a renowned college for catering, before building his experience in a variety of roles across the UK.

After graduating from college with a diploma in craft catering and an advanced diploma in pastry, Chris landed a career at a Michelin Star restaurant in London’s Tower 42, before deciding to move to the North East in pursuit of his dream career.

Chris continued: “Hawthorns is contemporary style dining in a minimalistic setting with locally sourced meats and heritage vegetables, and dairy items will be supplied by Doddingtons Dairy and the Northumberland Cheese Company. As well as serving the main restaurant, I have devised a menu of lighter options for The GIN Bar, including sharing platters, small plates and snacks.”

General manager, Andrew Fox, said: “We want customers to have a truly bespoke experience, and we want to cater for all needs; whether someone would like to enjoy some of our smaller dishes in Hawthorns or a bigger meal from the restaurant menu in The GIN Bar, it’s up to the customer.

“I’m delighted to have Chris on the team as executive chef. His experience of providing a high quality dining experience is already apparent in the delicious menus that he’s designed and I’m confident he’ll more than deliver on our aim to provide a personalised service in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere that will set us apart from the rest.”

The Crowne Plaza Newcastle – Stephenson Quarter, Hawthorns, The GIN Bar and Mineral House are set to open in September 2015, and are already taking bookings via the website and telephone. Please call 0191 562 3333 for further information.