A HEXHAM-based chef has taken on the top food role at a major new hotel development.

Stevie Murray is the Group Executive Chef at the Fleece at Ruleholme, a new premium country inn and hotel for Cumbria.

Stevie, formerly head chef at Walwick Hall Country Estate and Spa and who still lives locally, is busy behind the scenes at the 23-bedroom premium country inn, pub and fine dining restaurant just over the Cumbrian border near Brampton.

The Fleece has risen from the ground during the pandemic with building work on the multi-million pound project set to finish next month. Opening is planned for June when final lockdown restrictions are due to be lifted.

Stevie is promising customers a ‘wow factor’ when the doors are thrown open.

There will be a unique ‘theatre kitchen’ experience where diners will be able to watch from their tables as their meals are prepared and cooked on giant vertical rotisseries and a charcoal grill. Private booths will provide a more intimate eating experience for family and friends. Guests at weddings and events in Hadrian’s Suite will step out into a landscaped garden area with views across the countryside.

Stevie, who has worked under world famous chef Albert Roux, said: “It’s a very exciting time.

“The Fleece is stunning and I’m confident foodwise and just in general there isn’t anything in the area of the same ilk, we are going to be very different.

“I think when people walk in through the reception they will be blown away. It has a real ‘wow’ factor. Seeing the carpenters working on the oak beams with the old wooden mallets and chisels on the joints, it’s just brilliant. You don’t see things like that anymore.

“We have the pub area which will appeal to everyone, there’ll be some classics on the menu and also something different. We have the glass-fronted Oak room for dining and then we have fine dining in Bridge restaurant which will be a step up again.

“I’m hoping those that enjoyed my food in Northumberland will be tempted to take a trip down the A69 and check us out. I don’t think they’ll be disappointed!”

During his career, Stevie has gained two sought-after AA rosettes and held a Michelin Bib Gourmand for three years. His kitchens have picked up multiple culinary awards, including Grampian gastro pub of the year two years running during his time overseeing Number 1 in Aberdeen.

The Fleece is currently recruiting its next layer of managers with positions open for head chef, sous chef, bar manager, restaurant manager, housekeeping supervisor, front office manager and night manager.

The opening date for the hotel is currently set for June 21.