Love a Duck

PUBLISHED: 07:41 17 March 2014 | UPDATED: 13:02 18 March 2014

Chef and Owner Ben Handley at the Duck in Stanhoe. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Chef and Owner Ben Handley at the Duck in Stanhoe. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© Archant Norfolk 2014

Why did you choose to become a chef?

I knew I wanted to become a chef at a young age. I was committed to working from the age of 12, when I handed posies to the ladies on Valentine’s night, and carried on working from there, first as a waiter then gradually getting shifts in the kitchen. My parents ran The Lifeboat Inn at Thornham and all my spare time was given to practicing techniques and research.

What is your earliest food-related memory?

Amazing roast lamb with my Nanna, and being taken round the kitchens of hotels with my dad. The atmosphere was always exciting.

What is the strangest thing you have eaten?

I was given some beautiful, fresh, local sea bass recently. As I was prepping it the livers looked so enticing (rich, first thing on a Monday morning) and I couldn’t resist quickly searing them in a little seasoning and butter. Delicious!

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Without doubt it is taking the plunge and buying The Duck with my wife, Sarah. It’s been a burning desire of mine to run my own business in this industry in Norfolk. We had great support from family and friends and are nearing our first year anniversary.

What do you enjoy most about working at The Duck?

Working with an enthusiastic team, both in kitchen and front of house. Every day we’re working with new, seasonal ingredients. Great produce from great suppliers helps to keep everyone inspired. The core staff have been with us from the beginning and we’ve brought in new faces too. It’s like a family.

What would you say is special about your menu?

Our aim is to make everyone’s experience memorable. We really try to offer the whole package, whether it’s staying for a romantic weekend, popping in for a pint, trying some of our “bar bites” or a unique dining experience.

What is your favourite local ingredient?

A great piece of Arthur Howell’s aged beef, pork from Perfick Pork, Simon Letzer’s smoked fish, shellfish, mackerel... the list goes on! Needless to say, we’re blessed with outstanding produce in Norfolk.

Are there any foods you can’t stand?

Lychees, goji berries and I really don’t like okra.

Have you had any cooking disasters?

We had a very close call with a baked Alaska one evening but managed to pull that one back!

What would your last supper consist of?

It would have to include Isle of Skye scallops, aged Norfolk beef, (all the best bits too, ox cheek, rump cap, bone marrow etc) followed by some great local and continental cheese and home baked bread. With all my family and friends, lots of wine and no time limit!

Ben and Sarah Handley run the Duck Inn, Stanhoe, as a traditional village pub, with rooms and an acclaimed restaurant winning.

The Duck Inn, Burnham Road, Stanhoe, near Burnham Market, PE31 8QD; 01485 518330;

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