It shouldn’t be the case but it’s true – there are far fewer female head chefs then there are male.

But the Passford House Hotel in Lymington is proud to announce that its new head chef is Alicia Storey – only the second woman to take a chief position at a New Forest establishment.

Alicia started her catering career in a local pub at the tender age of 18, working front and back of house. After gaining her qualifications and moving up through the ranks in various New Forest hotel kitchens she finally became Head Chef at the Balmer Lawn hotel in 2009.

Among Alicia’s challenges has been to utilise all the produce from the hotel’s revived kitchen garden which is laid out in the original planting beds used by former owners Lord and Lady Arthur Cecil. (Lord Cecil was the private secretary to Queen Victoria and lived in the house until 1939 although the property dates back to 1500.)

2016 is the first year that Lord Cecil’s kitchen garden has been used for many decades and this year’s produce included heritage carrots and beetroot, rainbow chard, yellow courgettes, pumpkins, a mixed variety of tomatoes, runner beans, and rhubarb.

Alicia says: “I’m delighted to join Passford House Hotel at a time when it’s reviving its culinary heritage and will look forward to ensuring the kitchen garden plays an even fuller part in everything, food-wise, that we do.”

Alicia and her team will be hosting a traditional Shoot Dinner at Passford House Hotel during the upcoming New Forest Food & Drink Festival, when a special menu will be available from Monday 31st October to Friday 4th November.