Gourmet On The Green
by Frederick Latty
Mark Thomas Raffan, head chef at The Bull on the Green in Newick, talks to Frederick Latty about how he’s introducing some gastronomic delights to its menus.
At The Bull on the Green in Newick, chef Mark Thomas Raffan is cooking up a storm. Better known as Tom, the experienced cooking consultant has brought his unique culinary air to the Sussex pub and B&B, reconnecting with his roots following an illustrious career at home and abroad.
Hailing from Forest Row, Tom has worked with the Roux brothers at London’s Le Gavroche and Bray’s Waterside Inn, served as executive chef to King Hussein of Jordan in the Middle East, and held a Michelin star at Gravetye Manor in West Hoathly for 10 years. Now, he’s excited to introduce some seasonal flavours to The Bull’s clientele.
“We want to make this a destination with really good, proper cooking,” he says. “We’re hoping to start doing some events, and are going to begin hosting specialised dinners, so the times ahead are quite exciting.”
With its old oak beams and exposed rafters, The Bull exudes traditional charm. The pub was refurbished and reopened in December last year, and also boasts a cosy, comfortable seven-bedroom B&B. For Tom, overseeing a pub dining experience was an opportunity to fuse his Michelin experience with quality gastro fare.
“It’s different with pubs to fine dining, but we want to combine the two together,” he explains. “We want really good-quality, locally-sourced food, cooked beautifully, which people want to come back and eat, time and time again.”
Indeed, meals on the menus range from goats cheese parfait to Moroccan spiced butternut squash, with plenty of classics like fish and chips and steak burger in between. Tom’s keen to ensure that everything stays fresh, local and seasonal wherever possible.
“Slowly but surely, I’m putting my identity on the menu,” he continues. “We’re going to change things, so it won’t be a stagnant menu and will adapt with the seasons. Whatever we’re going to do, we’re going to do it properly. There’s a lot to work with and develop, but Rome wasn’t built in a day!” Also, on July 12th The Bull will be holding a ‘Taittinger’ Gourmet Dinner, Champagne and Wine evening. Please see their Facebook for further details. Serving around 150 covers a day, Tom’s specials will change regularly, focusing on delivering a consistently high epicurean offering. But he’s also conscious that less can be more when it comes to great cooking, as long as customers enjoy impeccable service, delectable dishes and a warm welcome.
“If it’s good local produce, cooked nicely, you don’t need to put a dozen different things on the plate to make it taste nice,” he concludes. “Don’t do it for the look; do it for the flavour. If you get that right, you can’t go wrong.”