Richard Hughes is well-known not only in Norfolk and East Anglia, but across the UK – he is a member of the prestigious and exclusive Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, runs the regional centre for the Academy’s Adopt a School Trust and has trained chefs who now work across Britain, Europe and America.
With a career which spans Swiss patisserie training, lengthy stints at The Connaught, Claridge’s and as Head Pastry Chef for the Mayfair Intercontinental, Mark Mitson has a CV that reflects his passion, dedication and skill and makes him one of the leading pastry chefs working in the UK today.
We are hugely proud to have Mark on the team here at The Assembly House and delighted that he has agreed to open up his recipe book to share some of his secrets with students.
After a classic lemon tart helped him win the title of Norfolk’s Home Chef of the Year in 2019, Chris became our resident baker at the cookery school. By day he works in IT but outside of this he’s an avid foodie and has a passion for all things dough. If you want to know about leavening, laminating or enriching then he’s your man.
He believes there’s a baker waiting to get to an oven in every keen cook and loves to share his knowledge and experience along with a wealth of easily repeatable and tasty recipes. With his classes you’ll never cease to impress family and friends!
Julia Hetherton is the Executive Head Chef at The Assembly House and has worked alongside Richard for many years. Born In Gorleston, Julia grew up in Zimbabwe, before returning to Norfolk to train at City College Norwich, winning multiple student of the year awards. She is a former Norfolk Young Chef of the Year has competed in the Académie Culinary Arts Patisserie Awards, has acted as Commis at National Chef of the Year competitions and has demonstrated her chocolate skills across the country. Julia ran the pastry section at The Lavender House, where her chocolate box was a highlight of the multi-course tasting menus. She took over as Head Chef at The Assembly House in 2009 before moving to head up Strattons of Swaffham for six years, before returning to The House as Executive Chef in 2021. Julia’s real passion is for all things chocolate and has she has trained alongside industry legends such as William Curley, UK Chocolate Ambassador Gary Hunter, Raymond Blanc, Benoit Blin and Angela Hartnett.
We are absolutely delighted to tempt Richard out of Benedicts’ kitchen and into the Richard Hughes Cookery School as a guest tutor for a series of classes! Richard will be presenting his very own Wednesday Morning Kitchen, teaching some of the techniques that have helped put Benedicts on the culinary map and turned it into a destination restaurant in the UK.
Norwich boy Richard has travelled and worked his way through some of the most amazing restaurants and countries across the globe and worked with some of the best in the business, from Michel Roux Senior at the three Michelin-Star Waterside Inn, for Günter Seeger in New York and Kevin Thornton in Dublin. On his return to Norfolk he was head chef at Galton Blackiston's Morston Hall.
Richard opened Benedicts with his wife Katja in June 2015, which has since been named in The Times Top 100 Restaurants in the UK, Square Meal Top 100 and EDP Norfolk's Best Restaurant 2016. In 2015, Richard won BBC2’s Great British Menu and returned two years later as a veteran judge.
And to top it all, he’s a really great bloke and friend to the cookery school! These classes are sure to sell out fast, so grab your place quickly!
Ashley Williamson, Head Chef: Head Chef Ashley Williamson has been a fundamental member of the Benedicts family since its inception in June 2015. Originally from North Norfolk, Ashley trained at Norwich City College before joining Galton Blackiston’s Michelin-starred kitchen at Morston Hall in 2012. Richard and Ashley met at Morston, sharing a passion for quality, seasonal ingredients and championing the abundance of Norfolk and East Anglia’s superb produce.
After graduating from Norwich City College, Sam began working in the kitchens at Galton Blackiston’s Michelin-starred Morston Hall, where she remained for 17 years. For 10 of these years, she was Head Chef, helping to maintain the establishment’s star and propelling the restaurant to further critical acclaim. Sam took a break from the restaurant business to raise her family, running her own bespoke catering business. In July 2023, Sam joined R.B Provisions, the sister company of Benedicts, as Production Chef, taking charge of producing the entire R.B Provisions range.
Bonnie Holmes has been working with Mark Mitson and Julia Hetherton on the Assembly House pastry section for more than two years, helping to produce up to 1200 award-winning afternoon teas every week of the year! A former student of West Suffolk College, Bonnie has previously worked at Biddy’s Tearoom, The Front Room at Bungay and at the St Lawrence Beach Club in New York.