New foodie changes afoot at Tuddenham Mill

Award winning chef from Tuddenham Mill, Lee Bye.

Award winning chef from Tuddenham Mill, Lee Bye. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Head chef Lee Bye has taken operational control of Tuddenham Mill and has some exciting ideas up his sleeve.

Bold changes are afoot at Tuddenham Mill near Bury St Edmunds, with award-winning head chef Lee Bye taking full operational control of the business.

A taster-only weekend menu, relaxed all-day dining, and Spanish-style lounge/bar are in the pipeline for the property, which is set to become more food-led under Lee’s management.

While he was never planning to leave the hotel, the chef admits he got “as close to itchy feet as you can probably get” so the challenge to take Tuddenham to the next level was something he relished.

“Strengthening the business is natural progression for me. It’s keeping the food what we aspire it to be. Seasonal. Local. The best in the area, but looking at a different structure in the business to make it more food-led. At the moment we are still going to carry on doing what we do in the restaurant, but we’ve got plans in the pipeline to extend the food offering. Upstairs the three rosette restaurant will hopefully go taster menu only which is, looking at our percentages of what we sell on weekends,telling us that’s the way we need to go.

“Downstairs the whole bottom floor will be ripped out and it’ll be an informal style dining area. Lots of social eating. Whole legs of Serrano ham hanging off the wood – almost like Spain in Suffolk. Because of how raw it is there it’ll lend itself to that style of eating.”

Remaining the heart and soul of the hotel will be that focus on using as many pure local ingredients as possible – including, where possible, homegrown veg from his grandad’s allotment, which often made a star appearance on the menu when he first started out at Tuddenham Mill.

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“It’s easy to throw the local label around. But we are literally going to farms in Tuddenham and if it’s there we’ll use it. We use loads of veg from the local area. Our milk is fresh from the village. There’s lots of fruit from the village and Gary across the road does our asparagus. We can have asparagus here an hour after it’s cut and it’s on the lunch menu.”

In store for diners at the moment, in light of recent hot weather, are brighter plates of food, all changing regularly, from gazpacho, to ice cold strawberry consommé with lemon curd. “It’s no frills. Just simple and stripped back,” Lee says proudly. “I think as we keep cooking our food is becoming more like that. Less stuffy. More ingredient-led. It represents the style of the building. I’ve been trying to relax the whole tone from day one. The other day someone came in and said ‘what’s the dress code?’ and I said flip flops and shorts – and I meant it. That’s worked really well for us!”