Ashburton Cookery School

Inspirational Training

Our chef tutors are accomplished, professional chefs with a wealth of catering experience between them. All of our tutors are employed at the cookery school full-time. They are renowned for delivering an outstanding level of cookery training that will inspire you, and they are the reason why our students keep coming back time and again.

Stella West-Harling M.B.E

Founder & CEO

Stella founded the cookery school in 1992 choosing Ashburton for it's beautiful location and local, organic food producers. She was an early pioneer of organic cookery and was chef owner of one of the first organic restaurants in the country. She runs occassional cookery courses with classes that focus on quality ingredients and cooking from the heart.

Darrin Hosegrove

Chef Director

Darrin began his career at Gidleigh Park Hotel working under the guidance of Michelin starred chef Shaun Hill. He has worked in many acclaimed fine dining restaurants in the UK and also held positions as a College Lecturer and Development Chef before joining the Ashburton Cookery School in 2004. As well as regularly teaching at the School, Darrin also oversees the development of new courses, recipes and menus.

David Gardiner

Chefs Academy Manager

David's career spans 25 years working at the Savoy Hotel before joining the Four Ways Inn and Waterside Restaurant in Bermuda. He became Sous Chef at the 5 star Imperial Hotel in Torquay before opening his own successful restaurant, Gardiner's in Budleigh Salterton, making the Michelin Guide. Following the sale of his restaurant in 2007, David joined Brend Hotels as Executive Chef before joining us in 2011.

Robert Spencer

Chef Operations Manager

Robert joined us in 2011 after a distinguished chef career cooking in many fine-dining restaurants including sous chef at L'Ortolan, head chef at the Michelin starred Rhodes in the Square, and the New Angel in Dartmouth.

Colin Bennett

Pastry Chef Manager

Colin first started baking bread at a very young age with his grandmother, and started cooking professionally at 18 years of age. He has been a chef for over 22 years. He has held head Pastry Chef positions at Bibendum and the Waldorf Hilton in London.

Read Colin's Interview

Phil Oram

Chef Tutor

Phil's career began at London's Grosvenor House Hotel followed by the RAC Club. Before joining Ashburton Cookery School in 2010, Phil was Product Development Chef at The Ark Chicken Company and previous to that he was Chef Lecturer at Exeter College. He now combines his enthusiasm for inspiring students with his passion for cooking local produce.

Alan Stannard

Chef Tutor

Alan is a local chef who has worked as Pastry Chef at Rick Stein's Seafood Restaurant, and chef at luxury hotels and restaurants. He was the head chef of the New Walk Brasserie in Totnes before joining the cookery school in 2012.

Stuart Brown

Chef Tutor

Stuart started his career nearly 20 years ago and has worked at the 1 Michelin star Horn of Plenty in Tavistock, and 15 years as Senior Sous Chef at the 2AA rosette Combe House in Honiton, Devon. Stuart was a finalist of the South West Chef of the Year competition in 2014. He enjoys wild foods and foraging and nose to tail cooking.

Ross Tregidgo

Chef Tutor

Ross trained as a Commis Chef in his home town of Tavistock soon lead on to roles in France and London hotels before he was able to secure a role with Peter Gorton at his Michelin starred Horn of Plenty Restaurant in Devon working his way up to Chef de Partie. Head Chef roles at quality Gastro-pubs and large hotels followed over the next 4 years, before Ross joined us in 2014.

Phil Suckling

Head Prep Chef

Phil has been a chef for 11 years, working at the Victoria Hotel and Gardiners Restaurant in Budleigh Salterton. Phil has also the valuable experience of having been a butcher for 3 years at Devon Rose. He joined Ashburton in 2013 and is in charge of our busy prep kitchen, setting up daily classes and managing food orders.

Lee Austin

Chef Tutor

Lee started his career in 1991 at the Michelin starred french restaurant chez nous in his home town of Plymouth. This led to 11 years of working under the well known chef Jacques Marchal during which Lee won the SWEB trainee catering student of the year award. Lee then moved on to work in various roles in Plymouth before becoming head chef at the popular Monty's on the Barbican cooking freshly prepared local produce, before joining Ashburton in February 2016.