A NEW head chef is taking up the reins at a historic Herefordshire pub.

As The New Inn in St Owen’s Cross bids a fond farewell to Michael Fowler, who leaves to pursue solo projects, the Herefordshire gastro pub has announced the appointment of Thomas Leak as head chef at the 16th-century coaching inn.

The new head chef is promising to introduce more affordable dishes and take the rural pub in a "slightly different direction", with a focus on seasonal and locally sourced ingredients where possible, while Mr Leak's passions for foraging, fermenting, and dry ageing will be reflected in his menus.

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Mr Leak has been part of the award-winning team at The New Inn for the past three and a half years, after gaining an impressive track record of culinary expertise at Great Fosters, Surrey, now a Michelin-starred restaurant, at the five-star Seaham Hall Hotel on the Durham coast, and at the Duke William pub in Kent.

The new-style gastro pub will offer a more informal dining experience with a terrace menu offering a delicious range of small plates to be served in the al fresco garden area, an extended bar menu, and an a la carte menu featuring certain popular British classics.

Mr Leak said he was delighted to be taking over as head chef and to be steering the pub towards "towards offering fabulous food with more modest pricing".

"We’ve got a great team on board, we’re in a wonderful location and we can’t wait to roll out the new summer menus," he said.