J'AIME APRIL 2019

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FEATURE

Reach for the stars

AFTER YEARS WORKING IN THE WORLD’S BEST KITCHENS, LICHFIELD CHEF LIAM DILLON IS LEADING

THE CHARGE OF HIS HOME CITY’S FOODIE REVOLUTION. AMY NORBURY DISCOVERS MORE

Copenhagen’s Noma. New York’s Eleven Madison

Park. Sydney’s Quay. Restaurants which have

regularly found themselves named among the very

best in the world. Restaurants which have each, at

one point in their illustrious history, been lauded as

the very best eatery on their respective continents.

And restaurants which have all earned a place on the

rather astonishing CV of Lichfield chef Liam Dillon.

With his undeniable talent in the kitchen, coming

from years of honing his culinary skills under

some of the best in the business, Liam could have

walked into a plum role in many of the world’s best

restaurants. But the fiercely ambitious 31-year-old

has set his sights on carving his own name into the

foodie history books.

Returning to his home city to open up his first

restaurant two years ago, Liam has been at the

forefront of something of a foodie revolution in

Lichfield.

His eatery, The Boat Inn, was recently named

Newcomer of the Year at the prestigious Estrella

Damm Top 50 Gastropubs awards. And don’t let the

term ‘gastropub’ fool you; the list includes lauded

venues such as Tom Kerridge’s two Michelin-starred

The Hand and Flowers, The Sportman in Kent and

Abergavenny’s The Hardwick, widely regarded as

some of best restaurants in the country.

The accolade is just the latest in a slew of awards

bestowed on Liam and the team at The Boat Inn

during what has been a whirlwind first two years in

business.

As well as being named Best Independent Restaurant

at last year’s Taste of Staffordshire Awards, Liam

himself was crowned Best Chef at the Midlands

Food, Drink and Hospitality Awards, beating off

competition from Brummie favourites Aktar Islam

and Andy Waters, as well as two Michelin-starred Sat

Bains. The previous incumbent? Brad Carter, head

honcho at Michelin-starred Carter’s of Moseley.

“Newcomer of the Year was incredible really,” says

the chef when we sit down for a chat at the tail end

of a busy lunch service. “The acknowledgment of

what myself and the team are trying to achieve here

was phenomenal. The room was full of Michelin

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