AN AWARD winning West Devon chef has scooped yet another accolade for his role in creating excellent menus at a Dartmoor hotel using local, seasonal produce.

Mike Palmer, Executive Chef at the Two Bridges Hotel just outside Tavistock, triumphed at the Food Drink Devon Awards when he was awarded the Chef of the Year title.

More than 444 individuals from the county’s finest food and drink producers, hospitality and catering businesses and speciality retailers celebrated in style at the awards’ ceremony, held at Sandy Park, the home of the Exeter Chiefs.

The award acknowledges the explosion of talented chefs in the region who have been driving innovation, championing local produce and producing exceptional quality food.  After sampling Mike’s menu, judges described him as a ‘truly exceptional talent’ creating ‘attractive and cleverly presented food, cooked to perfection and above all tasting absolutely delicious”.

On the award he said: “It came as a real surprise and means a lot after how challenging the past few years have been for everyone.

“It’s a great honour and I feel humbled to have been given the award amongst such strong cheffing talent in Devon.”

Dartmoor born and bred, Mike Palmer grew up in Princetown. He began his culinary career with his first chef job at the Two Bridges itself, aged 16.

Ten years later, Mike returned to the Two Bridges as head chef alongside a loyal team he had established at the former Browns of Tavistock.

Since his return to the hotel, Mike has secured and maintained 2 AA rosettes, consecutive Taste of the West Gold awards, Trencherman’s Best Food Hotel and Food Drink Devon’s Best Restaurant.

He quickly gained recognition for his commitment to creating an exciting restaurant experience and gained a strong local following, placing Dartmoor on the culinary map through hard work, dedication and consistency.

His inspiration comes from the variety and flexibility the hotel provides, from pub classics at lunchtime, to the à la carte menu in the evening, as well as being a busy events and wedding venue.

He describes his cooking style as traditional local food with big flavours that celebrate the season.

His favourite ingredients are ‘love’ and butter. Personal favourites from his menu include the Monkfish Pakora starter, the seasonal meat mains of venison and lamb, and the Everything Chocolatey dessert; an indulgent quartet of chocolate that’s been with him since his Browns days.

He is proud to work with Howell’s of Tavistock butchers, Dartmoor venison from Jeffrey Reynolds of Lydford, Tamar Fresh fruit and vegetables and Dartmoor beef.

He advises budding chefs: “You’ve got to love it, it’s more than just a job. Absorb ideas from every chef you’re lucky enough to work with.”