J'AIME APRIL 2019

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stars so just to be a part of it was flattering.

“But these accolades, for me, help to secure bookings,

which is what makes this business successful.”

It should come as little surprise to anyone in the

know that The Boat Inn is attracting such attention.

After all, this is a restaurant which earned a visit

from a Michelin inspector “to see what the fuss was

about” just three-and-a-half weeks after opening.

“There were builders everywhere and it was carnage;

I’d been working so hard to get the place opened and

it was so stressful,” Liam recalls.

But the evidence of a work in progress didn’t deter

Michelin, and The Boat Inn impressed enough to

earn an immediate nod in their coveted guide.

While we chat, Liam keeps one eye on the huge open

kitchen, where his team are cooking up a storm for

the last of the lunchtime stragglers. His eye for detail,

even from a distance, is immaculate, and the fact that

the team are going above and beyond and exceeding

expectations across the board is very much evident.

“We’ve come a long way from where the business

was previously,” says Liam. “Every day we’re making

the menu better, every day we’re making the menu

stronger.

“But I don’t want to be recognised as just a special

occasion restaurant as such; yes we do a tasting

menu, yes we have expensive bottles of wine, yes

we offer some premium products. But we also have

a very good value lunch menu, a very good but

accessible wine list - it’s affordable for people who

want to pop in every week or every fortnight.

“It’s an affluent city, and it’s becoming more of a

trendy city; there’s been a lot of change, and there’s

been a surge in independents, which is great.”

There’s no air of pretension at The Boat; Liam and

his team are happy to let the food do the talking. And

from the bread which is freshly baked every day to

the divine chef ’s snacks which accompany the a la

carte offerings, they certainly have a lot to say.

“From the minute I opened the restaurant, I’ve

always been cooking for the people of Lichfield,”

says Liam.

“It’s all about what I feel people want to come and

eat. It’s not crazy, it’s just honest, and that’s what we

do. It’s food I believe in.”

The tasting menu, however, is where Liam gets to

showcase his culinary chops.

“I do play around with the tasting menu; that’s for

me, and for the guys in the kitchen, to keep them

interested and to push us all. Now, people are starting

to trust us and what we’re doing, and going for the

tasting menu more often, which gives us the chance

to experiment more and to bring in new produce.

“Whether it’s a braised bit of meat, or roasted fish

and chips, or the tasting menu, the one thing I’m

trying to achieve here is that whatever you have when

you come to The Boat, I want it to be something you

can’t do yourself at home.”

While it’s obvious that Liam is meant to be in a

kitchen, cooking wasn’t first on his list when it came

to career options.

“I hated school; I was a late developer and I wasn’t

very attentive, but my family always instilled the

importance of staying in education and getting

qualifications so I stayed on to do my A levels,” he

says.

But beyond education, Liam was

unsure about which career path

to take. Initial thoughts were

towards the RAF or marines but

his parents Cathi and Mike - who

have always been a huge support

for their son - were less keen on

the idea. So after a family meeting,

Liam decided to find another

avenue to pursue.

“I’ve always enjoyed cooking,

and I think you’ve either got the

passion for it or you haven’t,” he

says. “For me, making someone

else happy with what I can do is

the biggest attraction. You can

change someone’s emotions and

make them feel a certain way, just

by cooking for them.”

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