The Fleece Addingham: Meet the world-travelled chef and proud Yorkshireman who has taken over the pub's kitchen
Yorkshire chef Will Bonfield's earliest memory is baking with his grandma in her country kitchen.
He would kick his feet in excitement when he was driven into the village of Addingham, just outside Ilkley, as he knew it meant spending time with his grandparents on their farm.
Will is now an acclaimed chef who has worked in a Michelin-star restaurant in London, an award-winning gastropub in Dubai and a prestigious ski resort in the Alps.
But his career has come full-circle as he joins the team at The Fleece, a classy pub just a stone's throw away from his grandparent's farm.
"It’s a part of the world that’s really close to my heart," Will, 37, told the Yorkshire Evening Post:.
“My earliest memory of anything is baking with my grandma, creaming together butter and sugar in a blue bakelite bowl.
“Something seemed quite special about the opportunity and I want to bring all my energy and experience in to make it successful."
Will started his career in hospitality when he was 16, working front of house in a Halifax restaurant before joining The Box Tree in Ilkley, where he won a national competition for waiters.
After a decade in the business, he put himself through catering college on his day off and put on his chefs' whites for the first time.
Will said: "I ended up going back down to the bottom, working as a junior chef in a London gastropub which had previously had a Michelin star.
“It was a real baptism of fire.”
Will's knowledge of flavour saw him quickly climb the ranks and he's since worked all over the world, from Dubai to South Africa.
“My cooking is all about layers of flavour using smart, classic techniques," Will added.
"It’s about treating the ingredients with respect, putting love into making the stock that you make a sauce with, for example.
"There are no short cuts to flavour.”
After moving back to Yorkshire, Will spent two years preparing to open his own restaurant which was due to start trading this April.
Devastatingly, his investors pulled out due to the pressures of the pandemic, so Will was back to square one.
The opportunity to work at the Fleece couldn't have come at a better time and Will was drafted in as head chef as part of the pub's overhaul under Oakman Inns.
"It's a fantastic place, there’s a really unique vibe," Will said.
"You can have three oysters and a glass of wine on your own, come in for an omelette and chips with friends at lunchtime, or have a long evening with a bottle of wine, a seafood platter or some fantastic rib-eye steak.
“It’s restaurant-quality food, as well as good pub classics, but in a relaxed environment."
Despite working in bustling cities and glamorous locations around the world, it's the sincerity of Yorkshire folk that drew Will back to his home county.
He added: "Wherever I’ve been in the world, I’ve always been a proud Yorkshireman - I’m proud to represent where I’m from.
"The cosmopolitan lifestyle is entertaining, but The Fleece shows you don’t have to go to big cities to get fantastic food.”
What's on the menu at The Fleece?
Will has joined the team at The Fleece as part of its overhaul under bar and restaurant group Oakmann Inns.
The renovated pub, which reopened on May 17 as lockdown restrictions eased, has a cosy interior and a large south-facing terrace for diners to soak up the sun.
Will's menu includes light and fresh seafood dishes and hearty pub classics, such as a steak burger, chicken and ham pot pie and a Goan king prawn curry.
The pub's links with the local seafood industry date back to the 18th century and Will's daily specials make the most of the day's fresh catch.
The battered haddock is served with hand cut chips and mushy peas and there's an array of starters, including queenie scallops, smoked salmon and haddock goujons.
On Sundays, there is a choice of roasts with all the trimmings with meat supplied by local farmers.
The tempting dessert menu includes a steamed syrup sponge, praline profiteroles, a raspberry and ribble gin trifle and a dark chocolate fondant.
There's a vast selection of beers, wines and gins to accompany the food.
“One of the many dishes I love is the lamb with asparagus and jersey royals," Will said.
"It uses seasonal ingredients and is special to me as my grandparents farmed lamb.
"I've recently put on a fish special on which is one of my signature dishes, it’s a piece of pan-fried hake with chorizo and white bean stew, inspired by southern Spain.”
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