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The Fordwich Arms restaurant near Canterbury gets Michelin star

ByLydia Chantler-Hicks

Award a Michelin star to any restaurant and tables become rarer than hen's teeth as the foodies flow in.

Such is the power of the coveted prize chefs can spend years aiming to be included within the culinary world's golden guide.

But not for The Fordwich Arms it seems, as a mere 10 months after opening its doors shocked head chef Dan Smith received the news his celebrated kitchen was to join the likes of fellow Micheliners, The Sportsman and The West House.

The Fordwich Arms near Canterbury
The Fordwich Arms near Canterbury

Even more impressive, perhaps, is the fact Smith and his business partners, wife and pastry chef, Natasha and sommelier Guy Palmer-Brown are 26 years old.

"We were really shocked when we found out and first thought it was a mistake." said Smith who cut his teeth at London's Michelin starred, Clove Club.

"Receiving a Michelin star 10 months after the day we opened is amazing. We have brought something to Kent and really put Fordwich on the map.

Chef and owner Dan Smith
Chef and owner Dan Smith

"It's thanks to all the hard work of the team, and we'd like to thank our customers. We won't be putting prices up."

"We were already massive fans of The Sportsman before moving here; we are all really supportive of each other," he said.

The historic pub in picturesque Fordwich had previously been run by town stalwarts Sue and Shaun Donnelly who retired after 24 years last November.

The trio had their work cut outwinning over locals after renovating the traditional hostelry.

Some disgruntled regulars were unimpressed with price increases and the removal of sandwiches from the bar menu.

Writing at the time of openingPeter L, took to TripAdvisor to express his disappointment.

Describing the changes as “homely to hipster,” he wrote: “It is sad to say there is very little to compliment the pub on. The decor is now sterile with dull lighting. Gone is the buzz and atmosphere of a community-based pub. Where once the tables in the bar would have been full of lunchtime diners they now sit empty and forlorn."

But the proofas they say is in the pudding and despite the initial backlash rave reviews flowed in from celebrated food critics including Grace Dent who awarded the restaurant five stars.

A Michelin star is testament to the team's first-class cookery with service looked after by experience Guy Palmer-Brown who Smith met while working at the Clove Club.

"We have already seen an increase in bookings since we broke the news," added Smith who now plans to get to work on a menu for the changing season and a busy few months.

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