Ruth Hansom

Ruth Hansom

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Whilst at The Ritz, Ruth also managed to find the time to take part in numerous cookery competitions across the world, winning titles including Master Chef of Great Britain and Young National Chef of the Year. ‘I love competing,’ she says. ‘That’s what got me into the industry. It challenges you to do things you wouldn’t ordinarily do in your day-to-day.’ In 2017, Ruth took the decision to leave the Ritz, taking some time out to work out what to do next and furthering her knowledge of British produce, which was fast becoming a focus of her cooking (‘I wanted to go out and explore all the producers and suppliers I could, and start to build those relationships’). In the meantime, a successful appearance on BBC’s Million Pound Menu alongside former sommelier at The Ritz Emily Lambert almost led to the duo opening a restaurant concept called Epoch, backed by Atul Kochhar, before the pair decided they wanted different things.

Following a period during which she moved around from place to place, doing stages at restaurants including Core by Clare Smyth, Ruth eventually landed her first head chef position at the Luton Hoo Hotel. ‘That was the job where I first properly learned how to manage people and how important it is,’ she explains. ‘You realise that everyone needs to be treated differently, and you can’t just shout at people or they’ll leave.’ Over the course of the two years she spent there, Ruth was able to work with lots of brilliant local produce and further develop her own style, but she soon started to miss London and wanted to do something a little more relaxed in style. This led her to taking the position of head chef at Notting Hill’s Pomona’s.

Not only was Ruth able to serve a more relaxed style of food at Pomona’s, but for the year she was there, she completely changed the menu, focusing it around the provenance-driven style of food that she loves. It took her trying this slightly more relaxed style of cookery, however, to realise that she did also still really enjoy fine dining. ‘I really enjoyed my time at Pomona’s,’ she says. ‘It’s so nice doing the more relaxed style of cooking because you can use big cuts and braises and make it really hearty but a side of me still wanted to do the more refined stuff.’ She was able to test out some of her more refined dishes whilst also fulfilling a childhood dream by taking part in 2020’s Great British Menu, where her food proved a hit and took her all the way the final of the prestigious competition.

When Pomona’s closed in 2020, Ruth was given the chance to relaunch the entire food offering at East London gastropub The Princess of Shoreditch. Providing her with the opportunity to look after both the more relaxed downstairs pub menu and the tasting menu served in the upstairs dining room, she leapt at the opportunity. ‘I just jumped at the chance. It was amazing to be able to refine things upstairs and then be playful with pub classics downstairs. We also bought a lot of whole animals, so it also gave us the chance to utilise everything.’ In terms of where Ruth’s preference now lies in terms of the food she most enjoys cooking, she’s still undecided: ‘In terms of creating dishes, I definitely prefer the more refined stuff but I probably actually prefer cooking the downstairs menu.’

Ruth won numerous accolades at The Princess of Shoreditch including three AA rosettes, before leaving in 2022 to continue developing as a chef.