We sat down with popular Stroud chef Wes Birch to find out a little more about why eating at The Ship Inn is so special.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, including where you are
today, professionally, and what got you here?
We opened The Ship Inn in July 2021 after an extensive refurb. We’ve also had BIRCH Catering for 10 years! I arrived from Derbyshire in 2001 and swiftly started working at William’s Kitchen in Nailsworth. I applied for an advert that said ‘we’re looking for the next Jamie Oliver’. It was a great starting point for my career and I gained a wealth of culinary experience under William Beeston and colleagues. I have been very fortunate with the people I’ve worked with so far.
What’s your signature dish?
I don’t really have a signature dish. However, I’ve always loved cooking
fish and also Italian comfort foods. Slow and low!
What are the most important considerations when crafting your menu?
It’s very difficult to create a menu that suits everyone. We try to balance the menu with a variety of options to appease the masses.
However, it’s crucial that we make food that we love to eat ourselves-that way the passion is there! We try to use ingredients that are locally sourced, sustainable and seasonal.
How would you describe your cooking style?
I’ve always loved the phrase ‘cuisine spontanée’. I love spontaneous
cooking. I can’t rock up to a market or fishmongers with a menu in mind.
I like to see what’s there and gather inspiration based on what I can
Do you have a favourite time of year or such of ingredients that you
look forward to working with?
I prefer cooking in the colder months. I really enjoy cooking game and
winter veggies. Open fire, bottle of red wine and a delicious game stew,
What is your favourite ingredient?
Garlic and lots of it! Other than sweet dishes, I can’t think of any
dishes I make that doesn’t have it in.
What’s your favourite piece of kitchen equipment?
My knives, of course.
Where’s your favourite place to dine?
At home. We don’t get to go out very often as we’re always so busy.
However, when we do it’s always a treat. We enjoyed a meal at Sam &
Jak’s in Cirencester the other day.
What do you think is the most overhyped food trend?
How would you describe the food you create at The Ship Inn to somebody who’s never experienced your kind of food?
Modern British and European classics.
How do you go about menu planning?
We chat amongst ourselves in the kitchen, sharing stories of memorable
meals, Instagram videos and forgotten cookbooks.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a chef?
I can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to be.
Although we now have a large team, so I don’t cook as often as I used
What’s your favourite takeaway or comfort food?
Nhiangs Thai food from Stroud farmer’s market. Tom Yum is just as good
for breakfast as it is any other time of day.