John Stephens, Head Chef at Woodlands Park Hotel, Cobham, Surrey.

With decades of experience in the hospitality industry as a chef and consultant, John’s style, technique and approach to cooking has culminated into his recipe for success “Take the best ingredients but don’t mess them up!” Now as Executive Head Chef for Woodlands Park Hotel, John takes pride in instilling this mantra within his team, showcasing the region’s finest produce within the hotel’s two restaurants.

John’s training began at North Devon College where he studied for 2 years but in the intervening years his passion for food has taken him across the UK and abroad. John’s former experience includes a position at a luxury hotel resort in the Caribbean, as Head Chef under Michelin trained Ben Gorman at the Mermaid Café in Dublin, and as the opening Head Chef for the Turners Grill in Birmingham.

One of John’s favourite achievements was being asked to cook for the Channel 4 Taste Festival, showcasing alongside a myriad of Michelin starred chefs. Following on from this, John used his broad experience and knowledge as a consultant for the Crowne Plaza group, where he was able to focus on and develop the private dining offering. 

In Woodlands Park’s Oak Room and Benson’s restaurants, you will find a selection of signature dishes including glazed sirloin and Himalayan salt aged short rib, with smoked mash and beer jus. Seasonality and sustainability are paramount for John, so his menus are changed regularly to ensure guests always enjoy the very freshest flavours on the plate.