Q&A with Liam Watson, head chef at Fenways, Loughborough

Liam Watson is head chef at exciting new Loughborough venue, Fenways Burgers, Smokehouse & Bar. Fenways opened on April 13 after a wonderfully creative interior and exterior makeover by the chaps from Leicester-based Orange Tree Group.

The bar/restaurant takes cues from some of London’s most popular street-food concepts and is inspired by much-missed pop-up restaurant, The Smokehouse in Leicester. We recommend a visit to Fenways if you enjoy casual dining, slow-cooked meat dishes (and interesting vegetarian options), craft beers and cocktails. It’s a fun and tasty place to chill out with friends.

We caught up with Liam to find out more…

Give us a quick overview of your career…

Liam: “I started with the Orange Tree Group five or six years ago where I was the sous chef at The Lansdowne. I then ran The Smokehouse for 18 months, before doing another 18 months at The White Peacock before ending up at Fenways!”

What are you trying to achieve at Fenways?

Liam: “To bring a similar level of dining we had at The Smokehouse within a more family-friendly and exciting environment and where people will stick around for three or four hours rather than just coming to dine.”

Do you like cooking in an open kitchen?

Liam: “It is actually really great, we get a lot of customers sitting at the kitchen so we can interact with them and have fun. It keeps us honest, too!”

Where do you like to eat out locally when you get the chance?

Liam: “The White Peacock is stunning. I ate at the new King Richard III pub and it was phenomenal. The Cow & Plough out in Stoughton and Kayal on Granby Street are also worthy mentions.”

Any favourite local producers?

Liam: “We’ve had a group relationship with Brucianni’s for years and they’ve been voted to have the world’s best white bread and no-one knows about it! We here at Fenways use Hambleton Bakery and March House Farm, who produce some of the best meat in the area.”

What should we order next time we’re in Fenways?

Liam: “The eight-hour St Louis Ribs are smoked up everyday – of course I recommend the full rack! We’ve got a few of the old Smokehouse options too, such as our house-smoked BBQ sausage, but we’ve added our own individual Fenways flavour. Vegetarians are also currently going wild for the Brassica Massacre burger too!”

Matt Wright
The author:

Matt lives in Leicestershire with his wife, two kids and dog. He is passionate about British pubs, slow food and home brewing. He founded Great Food Club (originally as Great Food Magazine) in 2010 after being inspired by local producers near his home town of Melton Mowbray - Britain's 'Rural Capital of Food'.