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Kenwards

John Kenward started up his restaurant, Kenwards, in what is now Seasons on School Hill, with a solid philosophy in mind. “I was determined to see the process through from beginning to end,” he tells me. By this he means that he wanted to source his food, buy it, chop it, cook it and even serve it himself. “I also wanted, wherever possible, to use locally produced, seasonal food”, he adds. “I wanted to cook good food well. I wanted to use continental methods on English produce.” Sound familiar? Of course it does. It is a common philosophy amongst restaurants and gastro pubs throughout the country. The thing is, John, a former architecture lecturer, opened Kenwards up in 1981, when this sort of behaviour in a restaurant was, well, a little odd. But it worked. Within six months of opening, he was in The Good Food Guide, the British equivalent to Egon Ronay, the bible for a growing army of foodies.

Within two years his business had outgrown his premises, and he moved the business to Pipe Passage, to a former flower shop and its unused-for-decades attic, a beautiful space split by vertical seventeenth century beams. News of the restaurant spread across the country - there were articles in the Guardian and the Independent - as John slaved over meal after meal. Venison with juniper; guinea fowl with wine sauce and marjoram; pigeon breast with plum sauce; monkfish with oysters. Lewes, home to a couple of Indian restaurants, the Panda Garden, La Cucina and stuffy old Bull House, had never known anything like it. (continued overleaf...)


Kenwards: Good food and fine wine in the Thatcher years