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.

Michael Barber

Pastry Chef Tutor

Michael's career began at York's Bakery in Birmingham where he learned to master breadmaking. In 2013 he joined The Grand Hotel in Torquay where he worked his way up to Senior Production Pastry Chef with a team of chefs creating the full range of classic Patisserie. Michael has also run his own successful Chocolatier business supplying confectionery across the South West. He joined the Ashburton Cookery School in early 2018 and leads our Patisserie courses and Chefs Academy Pastry qualifications.

Carol Schnegg

Pastry Chef Tutor

Carol is an experienced Pastry Chef and Lecturer and has worked on luxury cruise liners through to luxury hotels in London, Munich, Zurich Toronto and Bermuda. She is a full member of the Master Chefs of Great Britain, a Master Craftsman of the Guild of Chefs and international competition judge. Carol joined us as a Pastry Chef Lecturer and also over sees the Internal Quality Assessing for the the Diploma in Patisserie.

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.

Darren Comer

Chef Tutor

Darren studied Hospitality Management before starting his culinary career in the fine dining 3 Rosette Camellia Restaurant in Sussex. He moved on to train with renowned 2 Michelin-starred Chef John Campbell and was part of the opening team at Cowarth Park for 2 years in Ascot before securing a senior kitchen role with Michelin-starred Chef Chris Staines at The Abbey Hotel in Bath. Here he went on to head the team as Head Chef for 5 years maintaining 3 AA rosettes and entry in the good food guide among other local awards for excellence in cuisine and service. He has particular interest in Italian and Asian Fusion Cuisines.

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.

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.