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24th October 2022

New chef who ‘cooks with love’ brings tasty new, heartwarming dishes to village pub

A talented young chef is cooking up a storm at a small Shepherd Neame pub in rural Kent.

Since joining The Mermaid Inn in Bishopsbourne, near Canterbury, 22-year-old Levi Gilham has revitalised and expanded its menu, resulting in an ever-growing number of customers flocking to sample his delicious dishes.

Hard working Levi, who trained at Folkestone College, and gained experience working at pubs renowned for their food including the Tickled Trout in Wye and the Tiger Inn in Stowting is currently running the kitchen single-handed and relishing the challenge.

He has produced all new menus, as well as a Christmas menu, serving up a range of small plates, lunches and main meals, along with some delectable desserts, all homemade using locally sourced produce wherever possible.

And his input has proved popular with customers and locals, who also welcomed new licensee Becky Smith two years ago.

Manager Emma Homewood, 34, who was born and bred in the village, said: “Levi cooks with love. When you taste his food you can feel the effort.

“The locals all love him, which is very important to us,” she added. “Everything is handmade. People are really enjoying everything he is making – especially the puddings!”

Levi, who lives in Cheriton, said: “I like feeding people – if they are happy, I’m happy. There is something for everyone on the menu.

“We’re shut on Mondays and Tuesdays for food, but I make scotch eggs, sausage rolls and so on in advance so that there is always something for customers.”

For lunch, guests can choose from a range of sandwiches or a delicious Ploughman’s platter offering a choice of two meats or cheeses or one of each, served with fruit, salad, chutney and homemade bread.

Small plates range from homemade hummus with ciabatta, to baked Camembert served with toasted bread and cranberry sauce. Larger plates include a signature Mermaid Burger served with salad, fries and coleslaw, and the popular Pea, Spinach and Mushroom Risotto topped with parsnip crisps. To finish, delicious puddings on offer include Berry Strudel and Toffee Apple Crumble.

Levi’s first Christmas menu also features festive light bites, ranging from pigs in blankets with cranberry sauce or Christmas loaded fries to Brussels sprouts with crispy pancetta and chestnuts, all priced from £7 to 10.

And his mains, which feature vegetarian options, also include the belt-busting roast turkey with roast potatoes, parsnips, tender stem broccoli, Brussels sprouts and pancetta, pigs in blankets, pigs in blankets, cauliflower cheese, stuffing with chestnuts and Yorkshire puddings with red wine gravy! Two courses cost £29.95, or three for £34.95, both with a glass of mulled wine.

He is also considering launching a supper club once a month on Friday nights, offering a five course tasting menu.

Emma, whose Nan worked at The Mermaid as a barmaid; whose mother still works shifts, and whose daughter also now works at the pub as a Pot Washer, said: “This is a very special community pub and we are lucky to have a really close-knit team.  Levi has fitted in really well and is doing an amazing job in helping us to make more people aware of just what The Mermaid has to offer.”

The Mermaid Inn, which was originally built in the 1860s as a tap house for local estate workers, promises a friendly welcome, and is the beating heart of local life in Bishopsbourne, just five miles outside Canterbury.

You can find The Mermaid Inn at The Street, Bishopsbourne, CT4 5HX, call 01227 830581 or visit


About Shepherd Neame

Shepherd Neame has been based in the market town of Faversham, Kent for over 300 years. Perhaps best known for great British classic ales such as Spitfire Amber, which carries the Royal Warrant, its diverse portfolio includes Five Grain Lager, Bear Island East Coast Pale Ale and Bear Island Triple Hopped Lager, and the Whitstable Bay Collection. It also brews international lagers under licence including Samuel Adams Boston Lager and premium Thai lager Singha. The independent family business boasts an award-winning visitor centre and more than 300 pubs and hotels throughout London and the South East, from the historic heart of the City to the Kent coastline.

Shepherd Neame is not responsible for the content on third party websites.

Press release from Shepherd Neame.

For further information please contact Communications Executive Angela Cole on 01795 542142 or email or visit