WORKING for Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsey and then opening the wonderful Silver’s Pantry in Taunton, I once again found Steven Kiernan and this time, he was hiding away in the kitchen of The Farmers Arms in West Hatch.

This beautifully rural stand-alone pub not only has a restaurant led by newly-appointed Steven Kiernan, it also has five individually designed rooms, so you can stay the night too.

Having never worked in a pub, this is a new venture for Steven and he is excited to be working on future plans with the pubs owners.

Steven’s love of cooking began when he was younger, and he started by baking cookies for his sister to take to school and then cooking family dinners.

He said: “I got a summer job as a kitchen porter at the age of 15, but the chef didn’t let me stay as a potwash for long because she clearly saw something in me.

“From there I went to college and trained.

“I think everyone has a natural talent for cooking.

“And the way the world is nowadays, cooking is so accessible with cooking programs and cookery books and so on.

“I think everyone’s home cooking game has been upped – it makes it harder for us chefs nowadays.”

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After working for both Gordon Ramsey and Jamie Oliver, Steven moved from London around eight years ago and opened up his own delicatessen in Shepton Beauchamp.

He then decided to move to Taunton and open Silver’s Pantry. In September last year, he sold the Silver’s Pantry to Myles Anderson.

“I started from nothing and got it up to number one on trip advisor,” Steve explained.

“I was a bit constricted to what I could cook there, there was no extraction fan or anything, so I left and took some time out for a while.”

Helping Tom Brazier set up Braziers and work on the food side of the business kept Steven occupied for six months, until one night he was having a quiet pint in The Farmers Arms in West Hatch.

He said: “I’ve known Alison, the owner here, for a long time – she used to come into Silvers Pantry.

“I popped in here for a pint one day and she asked what I was doing, so she offered me the job as head chef.

“Four months ago, I did a few trial shifts and here we are. We were 20 on trip advisor and now we’re in the top ten.

“Alison was always a fan of Silvers Pantry so she lets me run the kitchen how I want – this is so important for a chef. The menu is quite free, I can change things when I get certain ingredients in.

“I’ve never worked in a pub before so it’s kind of new to me, so you’ve got to find that balance of pub food – you’ve got to have a burger, you’ve got to have fish and chips, you’ve got to have a pie – but then you have to find a few funky dishes to step above the normal.

“Everything is fresh and done in house which I am very very proud of. The menu is not huge, but I would rather keep it condensed and fresh.

“We use local suppliers, no one further than Devon.”

The menu might be small but Steven likes to make sure everything can be made fresh in house, all the local suppliers are no further away than Devon.

The meat at The Farmers Arms is from A.J. Hembrow in West Monkton, the fish is from Brixham, the fruit and veg from West Country Foods and bread from Upper Crust Bakery.

“A.J. Hembrow is brilliant. He is a small butcher and does everything old school. Everyone should go there, is meat is second-to-none” Steven added.

“We stick to the seasons. Because it is best for everybody, it cuts down the air miles, and seasonal food is always cheaper and at its best.

“We make the fish batter fresh everyday using the ale we use in the bar. The ale is from Exmoor.”

“We cater for everybody.

“We do have specifically vegan dishes on the menu – we have a polenta dish with wild mushrooms and baked tomatoes, we also have a falafel burger which is completely vegan.

“We do have gluten free as well, but most of the dishes can be adapted to be gluten free too.”

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Since Steven arrived at The Famers Arms, they have now introduced a Sunday brunch option alongside their traditional Sunday roast.

This means they are open from 11am until 4pm, and alongside this are serving eggs benedict, pancakes with maple syrup, French toast and so on.

Steven added: “I’ve never met a food I didn’t like to be honest, I eat everything.

“There is something quite nice about any food you get to eat outside with a cold cider or a nice crisp glass of white wine.

“I could look at an engine in a car and have no idea what I am looking at, or I could try to fix a plug socket and I would have no idea.

“But cooking seems to be what I can do – so I’ll just stick to that really.”

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