Michelin Guide UK 2022: Sarah Hayward discusses retaining a star at The Coach as a new head chef.

The Staff Canteen

Sarah Hayward head chef of tom Kerridge's the coach restaurant was 'Over the moon' when the restaurant retained its Michelin star not long after she became head chef.

Sarah hadn't been the head chef at Tom Kerridge's The Coach long by the time the Michelin Guide came out this year. She officially took the position of head chef in November, meaning it was only 4 months between her rejoining the restaurant, she had previously worked there as a junior sous chef, and the Michelin guide announcing the restaurant had retained its star.

Before retaining the star she said: "I'm not going to lie; I was absolutely shitting myself about it. The coach is such a well-known and well-loved restaurant, and I was always looking at the chefs who ran it before. I was very nervous about stepping into their very very big shoes."

Retaining the star

Once the guide was actually released, that fear and anxiety turned into a whole mess of other emotions. Sarah said she was 'over the moon when we retained it' but that while 'there was relief, [and] there was joy, there was pretty much every emotion under the sun [as well]'.

Retaining the star wasn't a certainty. Sarah explained how Michelin likes consistency and how, with the fact she'd only been head chef for four months, that wasn't consistent.

Along with that 2021 had been a rather 'topsy-turvy' year for The Coach with first Tom De Keyser being head chef then a period where there was no head chef and then Sarah becoming head chef at the end. With each of these changes bringing in a new management style and shaking the restaurant up it was very uncertain whether the consistency that Michelin appears to like would be there.

"I was a little bit nervous [about that] I'm not going to lie," Sarah said.

When asked if retaining the star had given her confidence going forward, Sarah said: "There's always a fine line between arrogance and confidence. So yes, I do believe in myself and I do believe we'll retain the star next year, but there will always be something in the back of everyone's head where you think 'you never know' because you never do know with Michelin. They like to throw surprises at you."

She said that while retaining the star meant 'absolutely everything' to her 'you should never ever be complacent [and] that you should always be pushing' to improve.

The Future

Discussing her plans for the future Sarah said: "I don't know if [The Coach] will ever get two stars, just because of the way we are, and the style and the concept and the building itself. I don't know if that's something that would ever particularly be achievable."

Since she has only been at the restaurant for a short time, Sarah said how she isn't focusing on making plans for the future. Instead, she is focusing more on settling into her new role - she knows that Tom Kerridge always has something planned.

Credit: main image @thecoachmarlow

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 22nd February 2022

Michelin Guide UK 2022: Sarah Hayward discusses retaining a star at The Coach as a new head chef.