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Ryan Luke from The Heart of Suffolk Distillery in Suffolk describes the benefits of new business Skinner Hospitality, set up by former chef with The Chestnut Group, Phil Skinner

Is there anything better than a top-quality restaurant dish served at a reasonable price? What about if more than one dish sings to you from a menu? Well, this is where Skinner Hospitality comes in.

Phil Skinner, founder of the newly-established Skinner Hospitality, has earned his stripes in some of Suffolk’s best restaurants. From his early days as a Junior Sous Chef at the Bildeston Crown, to Sous Chef at The Packhorse Inn, Moulton, where he rose through the ranks at the Chestnut Group to become Operations Manager with oversight of several of their best properties.

Now Phil has taken his passion for creating excellent restaurant dishes one step further and founded his own business, Skinner Hospitality. Phil hopes to use this as a platform from which to showcase a carefully curated menu of small dishes that enable his customers to experience a variety of culinary flavours, without the pressure of having to choose only one dish.

Red Pepper Hummus
Red Pepper Hummus

Whilst Skinner Hospitality’s kitchen is based out of The Secret Distillery in Bury St Edmunds, its modus operandi is pop-up events in key locations. This provides Phil with the ability to tailor his menus to the various desires and tastes of each customer base. At present, Phil hosts a monthly Supper Club at The Secret Distillery and Langams Wine Bar in Stowmarket. He is also exploring introducing his take on a classic brunch menu throughout the spring and summer months.

Phil recently completed his Small Plate Grazing Evenings. Here he had selected a variety of dishes which he felt best reflected the palates of his diners, while showcasing the breadth of produce on offer in Suffolk. Phil’s offer of meat, fish, vegetarian, sweet and gluten free dishes meant there was something to tantalise all taste buds with everyone being able to indulge in the menu.

It is difficult to pin down a particular favourite of the customers from that evening as Phil’s vision for these evenings was realised, with people selecting a variety of different dishes throughout the evenings. It was, however, hard to ignore the popularity of the Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, served with Sourdough Crostinis and layered with pine nuts and peppers. The freshness of this vegetarian dish left everyone wanting more and, in fact, some couples ordered this dish multiple times in one evening.

Posh Cheesy Chips
Posh Cheesy Chips

A second dish which was met with compliments from customers was Phil’s ‘Posh Cheesy Chips’. To the uninformed observer these may not sound like they represent Phil’s culinary background, but they were cheesy chips like you cannot even begin to dream of. Starting with a layer of thick cut chips already suggests a strong start to the dish. This is before the layers of truffle-infused cheese sauce are added and the whole dish is topped with chives, spring onions, crispy onions and a healthy serving of parmesan.

As with any exceptional dinner, it is hard to round off the evening without a dessert which transports you to another world. To say that the brownie was chocolatey feels like the understatement of the century. Phil’s decision to end the menu with a double chocolate brownie was a stroke of genius. Even better was how it was served, with white chocolate running through it, fresh raspberries to give a sharper edge to the richness and a caramelised white chocolate and pistachio bark abed a generous serving of crème Chantilly.

With four supper clubs now under his belt, Phil believes Skinner Hospitality has well and truly hit the ground running within the small plate, grazing community. It has been clear from the waves of people booked into these events and the positive feedback from satisfied customers that Skinner Hospitality, with its passion for high quality restaurant offerings on a smaller scale, has captured the hearts of all those who have experienced it.

Double Chocolate Brownie
Double Chocolate Brownie

Speaking with Phil, it is plain to see the passion he has for the industry, as well as his unwavering focus on ensuring all customers receive top-quality food and service. Moving forwards, Phil will continue his monthly collaboration with The Secret Distillery and Langams Wine Bar. His openness to trying new dishes and creating next level flavours means his customers will never leave disappointed.

At present, Skinner Hospitality is due to return his Supper Club to The Secret Distillery and Langams Wine Bar during the first weekend of April. Its new brunch offering, in collaboration with The Secret Distillery, is due to be announced soon.


Ryan Luke runs The Heart of Suffolk Distillery at Finbows Yard, Bacton, with his business partner, Tom Mills, having taken over the reins of the business from its founders, his parents Martyn and Karen, in 2022.

Luke Ryan - MD of Heart of Suffolk Distillery. Pic - Richard Marsham/RMG Photography
Luke Ryan - MD of Heart of Suffolk Distillery. Pic - Richard Marsham/RMG Photography

He left a six-year career as a history teacher to concentrate on the family business which was set up in 2018, and since taking over has expanded its production area, taken on a new unit on the site and opened Langams Bar in Stowmarket, and The Secret Distillery in Bury St Edmunds.

His business also arranges events showcasing local produce, including farmers’ markets, annual drinks festivals and monthly supper clubs.

Ryan Luke

The Heart of Suffolk Distillery

Finbows Yard, Station Road, Bacton IP14 4NH

Shop open: Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday 11am-4pm

Call 07740 597331

Visit www.heartofsuffolkdistillery.co.uk