Leon Smith Takes Up the Reins in the Kitchen at The Oak

We are delighted to welcome back Leon Smith as Head Chef.


Leon, was Senior Sous Chef at The Royal Oak under James Bennett.  He left to head up the kitchen at the Artist Resident’s new opening; Mr Hanbury’s Mason Arms, where he quickly gained 2 AA Rosettes and national critical acclaim.  Previous to his position at The Royal Oak, Leon was Senior Sous at Josh Eggleton’s Pony and Trap.

Leon said “I’m really excited to return to The Royal Oak Paley Street as it’s one of the finest pubs in the UK. I loved my time as a sous here and I am looking forward to pushing my career to the next level. I have the desire and determination to improve their already glowing reputation.

The food will very much carry on with the ethos of fantastic ingredients, seasonal produce and great tasting dishes. It’s something that attracted me here before I started, and it’s something that I intend to carry on with touches from my own experiences.

Nick Parkinson said “It’s always good to hire someone who understands the philosophy and style of food on which our reputation is built.  Every chef brings something new which nourishes and develops the Royal Oak portfolio further.  You can never afford to stand still in this business.  Leon brings a wealth of experience; I know he will be a great asset to the Oak and I’m really excited to be working with him”.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

The Royal Oak Welcomes HRH The Earl of Wessex for DofE Fundraising Event

HRH The Earl of Wessex visited Holyport Real Tennis Club followed by lunch at The Royal Oak Paley Street on Tuesday (27th February 2018) as part of a campaign to generate support for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) Charity.

Craig, Scott and Nick with Earl of Wessex

Through a combination of DofE engagements, Real Tennis events and fundraising activities throughout 2018, His Royal Highness will enable a new generation of young people to start their DofE journey in the UK and abroad.

At Holyport Real Tennis Club The Earl played Real Tennis with young people from Holyport College. Afterwards HRH and DofE supporters had lunch at The Royal Oak Paley Street.

“It was an honour to host The Earl and DofE supporters.  I’m a member of Holyport Real Tennis Club and thoroughly enjoy the sport.  I applaud the work HRH is doing to raise funds for DofE and encourage and support young people through the programme.  I’m also delighted to see his efforts raise the profile of Real Tennis; everyone knows lawn tennis but it’s incredible how many haven’t even heard of Real Tennis.”  Said, Nick Parkinson, owner of The Royal Oak Paley Street.  The party enjoyed Confit of Salmon starter, followed by Roast Rump of Lamb, polished off with Poached Yorkshire Rhubarb, Whipped Cream & Orange Cake.

Headline sponsor and DofE partner RSM, a leading provider of audit, tax and consulting services has kicked off the fundraising for the Tennis Challenge 2018. More donations will be secured through events at each challenge location.

For young people aged 14-24, doing a DofE programme offers a unique opportunity to grow as young adults and gain valuable life experience whilst developing essential employability skills such as confidence, resilience and drive. After achieving an Award the journey doesn’t end and many Award holders go on to continue volunteering, honing skills or improving their fitness.

Peter Singleton, DofE Regional Director in the South East said: “As a DofE Charity Trustee and Gold Award holder, HRH The Earl of Wessex is passionate about supporting young people to reach their potential, whatever their background or circumstance. We are grateful for his dedication to the Charity and taking on this fundraising challenge. HRH’s support, and the generosity of so many local partners, will help us extend our reach in the South East and work towards our ambition of all young people having the opportunity to do their DofE. The Earl’s enthusiasm for Real Tennis shows that the impact of a DofE Award really does last a lifetime.”

Posted in Event, News | Leave a comment

MasterChef Dinners are a Winner – Sorry!

Through February we held 6 MasterChef Dinners, where Craig showcased 4 of his favourite dishes from the MasterChef : The Professionals competition.  Matched wines were also on offer.

Nick quizzed Craig about his experience of the competition, which gave the diners an opportunity to find out how at the age of only 21, Craig kept his nerve, was able to think on his feet and come up with some incredible dishes in the skills tests. Dealt with Marcus Wareing’s piecing stare.  Cooked for esteemed guest under extreme pressure.  How he felt and recovered after his wobble on the first day of the knock out week and how he steadily and consistently worked his way through the competition and clinch the title.

Not forgetting how his life has changed since winning the title – being recognised in the street and the incredible outpour of congratulations from MasterChef fans far and wide.

Posted in Event, News | Leave a comment

Craig wins Gastropub Chef of the Year at Top 50 Gastropubs Awards

On Monday 29th January 2018, our Craig won the coveted Gastropub Chef of the Year at the Top 50 Gastropubs Awards ceremony which took place at Andrew Pern’s the Star in the City in York.

Top 50 Gastropubs, Star Inn the CityThe Top 50 Gastropubs is an industry award and it is always an absolute honour to be recognised by your peers.

Stephen Harris’, The Sportsman took the number 1 spot this year.  Followed by Josh Eggleton’s Pony and Trap in 2nd place.  In hot pursuit, last year’s winner, Andrew Pern’s, The Star Inn at Harome took 3rd place.  For the full list please click here.

Here’s what the press had to say:-

The Morning Advertiser

The Maidenhead Advertiser






Posted in News | Leave a comment

VIPs cause quite a stir in little old Paley Street

Thursday 18th January started out like any other day in little old Paley Street until a rather noisy entourage alerted the locals to the arrival of two rather special guests.

May and Macron 18.1.18

Yep you got it!  Theresa May and President Macron popped into the Oak for a spot of lunch ahead of talks at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst.

President Macron was pleased to meet Theo and Audrey from France, he said “these French young people live the partnership between our two countries.”

Theo and Audrey meeting May & Macron

Here’s what some of the press had to say:-

The Times

Theresa May treats French president Emmanuel Macron to Michelin-starred pub lunch to discuss post-Brexit relationship

Daily Mail

Brexit negotiations continue at Fuller’s Pub

Emmanuel Macron and Theresa May enjoy lunch at the Royal Oak at Paley Street







Posted in News | Leave a comment

Craig WINS MasterChef : The Professional 2017

On Thursday 21st December 2017 Craig became the youngest ever chef to win MasterChef : The Professionals.

Craig w MCP trophy at bar

From the start Craig impressed the judges with his skills and innovative dishes.   He smashed the skills tests and wowed the critics with his beautiful and really tasty food. Jay Raynor claimed he’d like to steal his ideas!  He cooked for Gary Jones at Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons and Mauro Colagreco at Mirazur in France, both of which hold 2 Michelin stars.  In finals week Craig cooked for the Chefs Table, an audience of 23 culinary giants.  The VIP guests held 22 Michelin stars between them.  Craig’s Vanilla Creme Brulee with Calvados Ice Cream and a Spiced Brioche Doughnut dessert brought the house down and received such high praise from the esteemed guests.

Craig is a local lad, he went to Furze Platt Senior School in Maidenhead, Berkshire.  He was first inspired by cooking flapjacks with his Mum, a dish he used with a twist during the competition.

We cannot begin to explain how proud we are of Craig.  This is such an outstanding achievement; so very well deserved and it really couldn’t happen to a nicer more modest lad!

In Marcus Wareing’s words.  ‘You don’t come across cooks like Craig very often; we’ve found someone very special, we’ve just found the star of the future’.

Tonight we are holding the first of 6 MasterChef Dinners where Craig will showcase fours of his favourite MasterChef winning dishes.  Click here to take a look at the menu.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Rhone Valley Wine Tasting & Lunch for Starters


Our Rhone Valley Wine Tasting and Luncheon is taking place on Saturday 9th September, (after the rain!) so you’ll be able to enjoy the garden too.

We have a real treat in store for all you chocolate lovers, on Friday 13th October the gorgeous Master Chocolatier, Mark Tilling, will be here to teach you how to make your own Petit Fours.  The icing on the cake is the event is raising money for Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice Service.

Don’t miss out on our Fabulous August Promotion, just £25 for 2 courses and only £30 for 3 from our full a la carte menu.  This offer is exclusive to our Loyalty Card Members, so if you haven’t got your card pop in to see us and sign up.

Check out the newsletter to find out More……

Posted in Event, Newsletter | Leave a comment