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Will's Kitchen

Focus on inventive cooking for new head chef at Will’s Kitchen

Mark Hands, Head Chef at Will's Kitchen
Will's Kitchen Head Chef, Mark Hands

Stratford-upon-Avon residents and visitors are in for a culinary treat this autumn when the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust opens a new destination cafe, Will’s Kitchen, featuring an inspiring menu focused on locally-sourced food developed by new head chef, Mark Hands.
 
Located on Henley Street, opposite Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Will’s Kitchen will be a relaxed cafe venue which serves up fresh, seasonal food with a creative flair. Scheduled to open at the end of October, the 60-seat cafe will also feature inspiring, dynamic, changing digital exhibitions to which everyone can contribute.
 
Mark Hands, from Stratford-upon-Avon, has enjoyed a 30-year culinary career since graduating from Birmingham College of Food, training at The Savoy and Gordon Ramsay’s Aubergine. He joins Will’s Kitchen from pub chain Wells & Co, where he was group executive chef for seven years for establishments including Cox’s Yard and The Lazy Cow. Prior to this Mark was head chef at The Cross in Kenilworth, earning it two AA Rosettes during his tenure.
 
Commenting on his appointment, Mark said, “The focus at Will’s Kitchen is firmly on locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients, and this is something I am passionate about. We’ll be taking advantage of the fantastic local produce available to us, working with our trusted suppliers and using organic meat from Mary Arden’s Farm as part of our Soil Association Food for Life Gold standard. I am looking forward to working with the team, creating delicious, honest food that will offer a fresh perspective to casual dining here in Stratford.”

Serving breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea, the menu will offer an inventive twist on classic dishes featuring delights such as treacle-cured bacon breakfast melt, grass-pastured chuck burger on a charcoal bun, salmon, kale and quinoa fishcake and cauliflower and cheddar arancini with truffle mayo. There will also be daily specials and a selection of cakes paired with coffee and tea from Monsoon Estates and Joe’s loose-leaf organic teas.

Will's Kitchen - Will's Breakfast
Sample breakfast dish at Will's Kitchen

Hayley Bunn, food and beverage manager at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said, “Will’s Kitchen will offer a distinctive new cultural and culinary experience in Stratford, a place for customers to relax, socialise, get creative and of course enjoy delicious restaurant-quality food and drink. There are also plans to host special after-hours events offering local people something different to do in the evenings.”
 
Will’s Kitchen is part of the Henley Street redevelopment project which is led by Stratford-on-Avon District Council. The Henley Street redevelopment project is supported by funding from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the Government’s Local Growth Fund through the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP). This joint venture which aims to revitalise Henley Street as the gateway to one of the world’s great cultural destinations, will include improvements to the streetscape, amenities and way-finding to create a safe and welcoming space that enhances the identity and special setting of Shakespeare’s Birthplace for residents and visitors from around the world to enjoy.

The opening of Will’s Kitchen will create 20 new jobs which includes two apprenticeships. Recruitment is currently open for kitchen and front of house roles; see wills-kitchen.com for more information and to apply.
 
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