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All change for Swaffham hotel

PUBLISHED: 09:49 18 September 2009 | UPDATED: 11:24 08 July 2010

An award winning Norfolk boutique eco-hotel has embarked on a new era with fresh faces running both the kitchen and restaurant.

An award winning Norfolk boutique eco-hotel has embarked on a new era with fresh faces running both the kitchen and restaurant.

Since they established Strattons in an old manor house in Swaffham nearly 20 years ago Vanessa and Les Scott have put their all into the business and gained a reputation for providing luxury accommodation with a green ethos.

Throughout the two decades the couple have both managed and run the hotel with self-taught chef Mrs Scott heading up the kitchen while sommelier and wine expert Mr Scott ran the restaurant.

Now, with the business growing and set to expand further when the hotel opens two new hotel rooms, two new eco-lodges and a deli in the coming months, the couple have handed over the restaurant operation so they can concentrate on the strategic side of the business.

Chef Simon Linacre-Marshall has taken over in the kitchen while Lucy Pickering is now restaurant manager.

Mrs Scott said: “The business has grown and we cannot do everything ourselves. We have had to take step back and reshape things.

“The reality was that in the past year I had not been able to spend the time in the kitchen that the job needed.

“Simon can give it 100pc. We interviewed a lot of people and within two minutes of meeting Simon I knew he would work.”

The restaurant at Strattons has always revolved around good local produce being cooked well and while he has already been busy stamping his mark on the kitchen that is something Mr Linacre-Marshall is keen to continue.

The chef was previously head of a team at La Sapiniere, Centre Parcs' 70 cover fine dining restaurant in Elveden Forest, but he said he was looking forward to working on a smaller scale.

He said: “The size of Strattons means I can concentrate on getting the quality right and consistent and trying to move things forward.

“I always try and put 110pc in and I feel as though I now have time to do that.

With Mr Linacre-Marshall devoted to the kitchen it has meant the restaurant has been able to offer more covers and serve food throughout the day.

Ms Pickering, who has taken over from Mr Scott front of house, said despite the changes the homely feel of the restaurant would not alter and she was quickly absorbing Mr Scott's in depth knowledge of fine wine and cheese.

She said: “I have the enthusiasm but his knowledge is overwhelming. I have been here nine months now and I have probably learned more than in the last 10 years in the catering trade.”

Mrs Scott said that customer feedback on the new team had been very positive and one of the things she had enjoyed most was being able to dine with her husband in the restaurant on their anniversary, something they had not done for a long time.

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