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The Vale Resort Welcomes New US Executive Chef


An executive chef, who has cooked for Snoop Dogg, James Blunt and Barbara and Jenna Bush, daughters of former US president, George W Bush, has been appointed to oversee all restaurants and catering at The Vale Resort, south Wales, including Hensol Castle.

Dean Milburn, 42, originally from Baltimore, Maryland, joins the resort following a decade of working in the catering industry in the United States, with a further eight years based in the UK. His preceding role was three years spent as the senior head chef, at the University of Bristol, where he catered for thousands of students and academic clients.

Mr Milburn’s appointment comes as the Vale Resort is awarded with a Food Standards Agency rating of five, the highest mark possible, across its entire resort.

“Cooking has always been a lifelong passion for me, whether in the US or the UK. I’m excited to be returning to my culinary strength and speciality, which is creating unique and seasonal food on a large scale for the hospitality industry,” said Mr Milburn.

“Since joining, I’ve been developing menus that combine local, fresh ingredients to create innovative dishes with a US twist and a touch of Eastern fusion. One particular favourite that has gone down especially well is wasabi and nori wrapped monkfish with kimchi.

“The redevelopment of the historic Hensol Castle was a big draw for me joining the Vale Resort, and we’re beginning to work towards the exciting launch of a new destination restaurant overlooking the lake.”

When Mr Milburn returned to the UK in 2010 with his wife and newborn baby, the 400-year-old castle was derelict. It has since undergone a £10 million refurbishment, reopening in 2015 as a first-class conference and wedding venue. As part of that redevelopment, a 120-cover, top-end restaurant is due to be launched in the next 18 months.

Mr Milburn will be overseeing the resort’s three restaurants: the Vale Grill and bar, its signature restaurant, which has an AA rosette; the afternoon tea conservatory; and the forthcoming Hensol castle restaurant. He will also be responsible for all catering across the resort for conferences and weddings.

“I learnt so much about leading by example working in the US, especially during my time as an executive head chef at a high-end Italian in Washington DC. Having a team that trusts you, is motivated and is working with the best local producers available can result in incredible food experiences for guests.

“Wales is a perfect example of how local suppliers can transform a menu, and it’s by using these fantastic ingredients, just in a slightly revamped way, that will bring a new twist to the culinary offering across the Vale Resort,” he said.

Paul Beddoe, sales and marketing director at the Vale Resort, said:

“We’re pleased to inject some American enthusiasm and vitality in the form of Dean leading our gourmet offering across the entirety of the Vale Resort and Hensol Castle. We always want to be pushing culinary boundaries, so with chef Milburn’s multi-cultured background, we hope that guests will enjoy his determined spirit and, most importantly, excellent food.”