The head chef of an east Suffolk restaurant has reflected on the "mad whirlwind" of his first year – including the recent ranking as one of the country's top 100 best. 

Tom Payne stepped into the role of head chef at The Suffolk in Aldeburgh in June 2023, days before top Observer food critic Jay Rayner turned up to review the restaurant.

Now, for the second time in as many years, The Suffolk has featured in the list of the UK's Top 100 Restaurants for 2024. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Tom Payne stepped into the head chef role in June 2023Tom Payne stepped into the head chef role in June 2023 (Image: Rebecca Dickson)

The Suffolk has ranked in 85th position on the list – a step up from last year's ranking.

"It is massive to be mentioned," said Mr Payne. 

"It's the second year in a row and it's great for us to cement our place."

East Anglian Daily Times: The Sur-Mer at The Suffolk dining room The Sur-Mer at The Suffolk dining room (Image: Rebecca Dickson)

This award follows a snowfall of recognition on a national scale that Mr Payne has led the restaurant through in recent months.

From Rayner reflecting on his dinner at The Suffolk and naming it one of his best meals of 2023, to Waitrose Food naming it one of the best restaurants with rooms in the UK, 2024 has already been significant for the seaside restaurant. 

"It is hard to put it into words, it has all been pretty bonkers," said Mr Payne, when reflecting on the last few months. 

East Anglian Daily Times: The restaurant specialises in local seafoodThe restaurant specialises in local seafood (Image: Rebecca Dickson)

"Jay Rayner coming in to review us... that's the sort of thing chefs can only dream of.

"It is a credit to George Pell, the owner, and all that he has done since coming to Suffolk from London with all his knowledge and expertise. 

"The team deserves recognition too - working in hospitality is a lot to take, especially during the summer season - and they should be thanked for all they do."