Alex grew up in Marchwiel, a stone’s throw from Erbistock, and went to Darland High School and then on to Yale College.
Like many, she had her first taste of hospitality at 16 working part time as a KP in the kitchen at the Pant-yr-Ochain. At 18, she moved front of house and was then lured to the pumps at the Cross Foxes where she spent the best part of 5 years.
Big city lights and a course in fashion buying and merchandising saw her drawn to Manchester, and with a keen eye for style and design she still indulges her passion for clothes whenever she can spare the time or money. Louboutin, Jimmy Choo, Stella McCartney, she is our very own Sarah Jessica-Parker!
Wanderlust kicked in and Australia beckoned. Part time jobs turned into full time work and she ended up managing a backpackers bar in Melbourne. The melting pot of cultures down under is mirrored in their food and she learnt to love the touch of spice that comes with “Pan-Asian” cooking; useful taste-buds to have around given where we want to go with our food.
Once back from her travels, Alex took a coordinator position at Chester Zoo but missed the cut and thrust of pubs so joined the team at Harker’s in Chester as an Assistant Manager before joining us as Deputy and in effect coming home.
She’s especially looking forward to helping Ian nail our house gin…it’s hard work, but someone has to do it!
Ian, or ‘PJ’ as he’s known to his friends, is from Holt, although he and his partner Richard are moving to Pen y Lan, just a short paddle up stream, where they have been renovating their dream cottage. He loves design, is a fluent Welsh speaker and has a fine Baritone voice; with a naturally gregarious personality. Working with him can literally bring music to your ears! He was a member of Rhos Male Voice Choir for 15 years but is now very proud to be one of the select members of the Johns Boys Male chorus.
Always a bit of a foodie, he started life in pubs at 16 as a kitchen porter at the Pant yr Ochain, where he pestered the chefs to let him help with prepping and cooking food. Although he loved the creativity and buzz of the kitchen, and isn’t a bad cook himself, the lure of being on stage behind the bar and out front hosting and looking after customers took over. After getting a degree in Hospitality and Food Management at Birmingham he worked in a couple of other Brunning and Price pubs before taking over the Cross Foxes in 2008 and the rest, as they say, is history.
Aware that The Boat had been THE place back in the 70s and 80s, loving the area and the locals, and having known Graham for the thick end of 25 years, Ian couldn’t let the chance of being involved from the start in such an exciting project pass him by, and believes that as a team they could create something really special.
Aside from the prospect of running a free house, focusing more on game and fish, and using as much Welsh and local produce as possible, he is more than a little partial to a G&T and is super excited about the prospect of the Boat having its own gin still and learning how to make a tipple or two.
Sébastien, or Seb as he likes to be known is not quite as local as the rest of the team. Born and raised in London, he is actually half French, half Mauritian.
He was always a keen sportsman, with tennis and football taking up most of his time as a youngster. Although he considered a career in coaching tennis, his origins got the better of him; food and drink it was! He is however still the face of the tennis club back home where he played tennis from the age of nine and learnt how to pour his first pint.
The seasonnaire life took over and Seb found himself working three summer and three winter seasons. He could usually be found in France, although he did venture to the Scottish Highlands for a rainy summer to work in an award winning inn. His three winter seasons were in Les Gets and during his second winter he met his better half, which is why he can now be found on the Welsh/Shropshire border.
Hanging up his boots from seasonnaire life, Seb and Helen took on a live in position at the Carden Arms in Tilston. They left to pursue a dream they always had together. They bought a VW campervan and spent their entire summer eating and drinking their way around France. He is now ready to settle down and is really excited about this new venture and being part of such an experienced team in such a beautiful setting.
Seb loves talking about all things food and drink and if he isn’t working, you will usually find him in another pub sampling the food and sipping a G&T, or drowning his sorrows when Arsenal loses yet again!
Born and bred just 10 minutes from the Boat in Ponciau, Alyn’s definitely a local lad. He got into cheffing at the Corn Mill in Llangollen straight from school. Here he quickly learned how to organise himself in a busy kitchen while simultaneously learning all the basic techniques at Yale College. This was his first venture with Brunning & Price and he worked his way up to junior sous chef here, before leaving to join the new openings team for the company.
At 25 Alyn became the youngest head chef in the company when he took the culinary reins over at the Dysart Arms in Bunbury and with him at the helm of the kitchen they went on to win Cheshire Dining Pub of the Year.
He left B&P in 2013 to spread his wings and hone his craft with other talented chefs around the country. Along the way he launched a “small plates’” concept at the Wild Goose over at Cheshire Lakes and most recently was the Head Chef at the highly regarded New Malton Inn in North Yorkshire.
It’s fair to say that Alyn is very passionate about food, and when not in his own kitchen is out scouting for new culinary tastes and experiences elsewhere, or buying cook books to add to his massive collection. He has a girlfriend called Lauren and two cute (but crazy!) little pugs, Bruno and Freddie, and and is a huge fan of all things Batman. Finally and not surprising for a Welshman he’s pretty keen on Rugby Union…Wales of course!
Ben was born and raised in Rhiwabon, just a short drive from the Boat. He went to Ysgol Rhiwabon, and left thinking he wanted to be a carpet fitter… as one does!
Whilst in college learning his chosen craft, Ian Pritchard-Jones, who used to run the Cross Foxes, offered him a part time job as a Kitchen Porter. Ben accepted the position and enjoyed it so much he decided to have a career change, and became a Commis Chef, studying Cookery at Yale College day release.
3 years later, having taken to it like duck to water and been promoted to Senior Chef de Partie, he decided he needed to broaden his knowledge. So, he spread his wings and left the Foxes to develop his cooking skills and experiences in different kitchens across Cheshire, Shropshire, and the Wirral. During this time, Ben’s passion for all things foodie really came alight as he blossomed, working in some of the best kitchens alongside some of the best chefs in our corner of the world.
In his spare time Ben likes eating, which we think is an essential ingredient of a good chef! It doesn’t need to be fancy, but it does need to be delicious, and he can enjoy sampling simple food done well in a pub, dolled up in a fine dining restaurant, or foraged wild ingredients cooked on a barbie al fresco.
Ben is a family guy, and has a partner Tammy and a lovely young daughter, Megan. His hobbies, when not eating, cooking or foraging, are watching rugby (having played a bit in his younger years), training in Muay Thai kickboxing, and growing a few garden herbs.
Born in Singapore, which is perhaps where his love of spicy food came from, Graham was brought up in Surrey before seeing the light and escaping to the borderlands of North Wales; where Shropshire meets Cheshire meets Clwyd. He now lives near Overton on Dee with his wife Judy, a vet, and a veritable menagerie on their smallholding.
Back in the 80’s, along with his old business partner, he co-founded Brunning and Price Ltd, a food led pub company, at a time when pickled eggs and a bag of crisps were about as good as it got food-wise in a pub. They felt they could do better, and they generally did. Decent food was the driving force but a love of beer, wine and the character and informality of socialising in pubs was always to the fore as they strove for continuous improvement at every turn.
Having sold Brunning and Price in 2007, Graham was persuaded to return and grow it quite substantially before finally leaving for good in 2017. Some non-exec and advisory roles followed with some lovely companies but you can’t beat having your own “baby”, so when Ed rang him up about the Boat it didn’t take much for him to climb aboard and see if 30 years experience, a stunning location, a new business partner and some fresh ideas couldn’t make the Boat pretty exceptional and something for everyone that comes on board to be really proud of.
When not hanging out in pubs Graham loves most things sporty. He hung up his rugby boots a while ago but still occasionally plays tennis or golf, does a bit of sailing and adores skiing; mountains, powder, après-ski, long boozy suppers…what’s not to like?!
Born and bred in Cheshire near the Welsh border, Ed and his wife Annie-Rose, along with their young family are now renovating a house on the opposite side of the river to Erbistock.
His day job is commercial property development and investment but when deciding to get into business with Graham the only driver was creating something special in an absolutely idyllic location with one of the best operators in the business…..oh and by pure chance, The Boat is within walking distance from his new family home as well!!
As a member of the British Game Alliance, his love of game birds and promoting it as a delicious, sustainable and healthy food source is a perfect fit for the menu at The Boat.
Ed’s loves are sport, food, wine, beer and country pursuits.