A regular on the food show circuit, Steph is a familiar presence on TV and radio, performing cooking demonstrations, judging food awards and championing local produce.
From school, she trained at Craven College and soon found herself at the Dorchester in London working alongside Anton Mosimann (with a young Paul Hollywood beavering away in the kitchen as head baker). During this time she cooked for the Queen at a state banquet.
She travelled widely, working in St Moritz at the Kulm Hotel, Hotel Four Seasons in Munich and the Park Hyatt Hotel in Sydney.
After five years she answered the call back to the UK and started a stellar career firstly as head chef at Wood Hall in Yorkshire then Congham Hall in Norfolk, where she discovered her love of using freshly foraged herbs from its impressive herb garden.
In 2000 she landed at Rudding Park in Harrogate and quickly moved up the ranks, becoming executive chef in short order. She maintained 2 Rosettes in the Clocktower Restaurant for over eight years before embarking on her new venture as a chef consultant, working with a huge variety of people in the Yorkshire food world – and still finding time to teach at Leeds College and Yorkshire Wolds Cookery School.
What’s the first thing you cooked – and did it work? As kids growing up we had an old caravan that was our den, and with our neighbour’s children we formed the Moons and Winnards Gang. “MW” was painted on the front of the caravan on my parents’ farm.
We hosted them for dinner and all I can remember was packet soup to start and dessert was Angel Delight. Those were heady fun days – I guess we were the closest thing to the Famous Five, always out exploring.
Who is your culinary inspiration? From an early age, my Granny Moon would make sticky buns and amazing Swiss rolls. Her baking was super. From a professional point of view, I would say Anton Mosimann, my first five-star hotel chef at the Dorchester where I worked as a commis chef.
A raised eyebrow from him was more powerful than any roasting and ranting from a hot-headed chef. I learned in a cool calm kitchen where everyone strived to be their very best.
Which cookery books do you use the most? The book in my collection that has definitely seen the most action is Gary Rhodes’ Sweet Dreams – the sticky toffee pudding page has almost disintegrated. I defy any chef to pick up Marco Pierre White’s White Heat and not be inspired. Lastly Joyce Molyneux. The Carved Angel Cookery Book is a favourite for all preserving and countryside-inspired dishes.
Who would be at your dream dinner party? I think I’d invite my family because that does seem like a dream dinner party at the moment.
Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without? Well probably the Thermomix but I love my dehydrator too and don’t get me started on BBQs.
What is your guilty food pleasure? I love Yorkshire asparagus and it is just coming into season as Yorkshire rhubarb goes out of season. Our fields are full of Dales lamb and our gardens are springing into action with wild garlic on every riverside. Guilty pleasure? I’ve just discovered salted caramel Lindt truffles.
What are your plans post-lockdown? Work is busy with helping my clients design new menus and putting new systems in place post-lockdown and getting everyone match fit. Smart businesses have evolved, and some of my clients have changed their food offerings two or three times during lockdown.
I am looking forward to the Harrogate Flower Show and Great Yorkshire Show and some of the food festivals like the Skipton Dales Food and Drink Festival and Otley Food Festival – it’s important that we have consumer confidence for these festivals, and chef demos always go down well.
My new website and YouTube channel, both called “Stephanie Moon”, have been keeping me busy during lockdown. It is getting back to the professional kitchen that I relish.