Chris and Hayley Lee return to Bildeston Crown

Chris and Hayley Lee, pictured outside The Bildeston Crown

EADT BUSINESS Chris and Hayley Lee, pictured outside The Bildeston Crown PICTURE CONTRIBUTED EADT 20/9/07 EADT 22/12/07 EADT 25.4.09

A couple who held senior posts at a country hotel-restaurant when it won a clutch of awards has returned.

Chris and Hayley Lee have agreed to come back to The Bildeston Crown, near Hadleigh, two years after they left it, but this time they will run the business.

The pair, who spent the last two years with the Chestnut Group, running the Packhorse Inn at Moulton, near Newmarket, were asked back by owner and local farmer James Buckle.

“We have been very fortunate in both our recent bosses,” said Chris.

“James Buckle, who owns The Bildeston Crown, is at heart a farmer and he ignited my great passion for using local food and championing Suffolk producers. Philip Turner of Chestnut was a banker and taught me the importance of running the business side of a kitchen.

“So when James offered us the opportunity to return to The Bildeston Crown, a business we had helped shape for over 10 years but this time running it as our own, we felt ready for the challenge.

“We do not in way regret the decision to leave, but equally the opportunity to return, this time in charge, tugged at the heart strings and we do feel as though we have come home.”

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Chris and Hayley Lee officially took over the tenancy of The Bildeston Crown yesterday. In the 10 years to 2013 that the pair were head chef and manager at The Bildeston Crown, the Suffolk inn won the Best Restaurant title at the Suffolk Food & Drink Awards 2010, Taste of England 2009 and Small Hotel - East of England 2008 in the Enjoy England Awards for Excellence.

Chris was named as an “up-and-coming chef” by The Good Food Guide in 2007 and the restaurant was awarded three AA rosettes.

In the two years that Chris was executive chef with the Chestnut Group, and Hayley the manager, The Packhorse Inn was named Best Food Pub for the East in The Great British Pub Awards 2014 and also achieved three AA Rosettes in its first year.