Making his Mark in national awards

Head Chef and manager at the Pheasant at Neenton Mark Harris has won through to be one of six national finalists as Best Chef in the Great British Pub Awards.

He and partner Sarah Cowley re-opened the Pheasant with Neenton Community Society in 2014 after nine years closed and derelict. Mark and his team have been constantly working to develop the Pheasant’s food offering to be among the best in Shropshire.

“To be chosen as a finalist alongside some of the very best chefs in the country is not just a huge honour for me, it’s a credit to everyone in the kitchen team we’ve put together, including local young people we’ve trained and developed ourselves”, said Mark.

Telford-born Mark’s career has seen him work and head-up the kitchen team in top quality hotels around the country, cater at prestige venues and events from Ascot to Silverstone to The Open Golf and from the Party Conferences to both Manchester City and Manchester United Premier League football clubs.

Having progressed through two rounds of judging, Mark and his team next face an inspection and sampling visit from the judges before the national winner is announced in a live-streamed gala event in late September.

Mark’s entry not only show-cased the creative fine-dining side of the Pheasant, but the acclaimed traditional Sunday lunches which have been voted one of the best three in the Midlands.

At the end of February 2020, the Pheasant at Neenton was crowned the Best Rural Social Enterprise in the UK at the Rural Business Awards, but just 3 weeks later it was closed along with every other pub in the country because of the Covid pandemic.

“It’s been a hard 18 months for us, as it has for everyone, but we’ve stayed focused on coming through with all our staff in good shape, and we’ve invested in our new outdoor dining terrace to be one of best and safest places to eat and drink now we’ve re-opened”, Mark added.

“We’re up against some crack competition now for this award, but we’re going to give it a real go and show what Shropshire can do.”

CAPTION: Pheasant head chef and manager Mark Harris.

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