Born in London, Ruth Watson has always been fascinated with food. After spending seven years at Westonbirt School in Gloucestershire she took up a career in graphic design, during which time she was also an inspector for the Good Food Guide.
In 1983 she and her husband, David, bought Robert Carrier’s erstwhile Suffolk restaurant, Hintlesham Hall, and transformed it over a period of six years into an award-winning 33-bedroom hotel, with an 18-hole golf course.
In 1990 Ruth Watson took over the Fox and Goose Inn at Fressingfield, launching it as one of the first ‘gastropubs’ (before The Eagle in Farringdon Street, in fact). The F&G, or effing G as it was affectionately called by some, won many accolades for the eclectic but honest, home cooking. For the first 18 months she worked in the kitchen to ensure the food being served was exactly as she wanted, before retiring (hurt) to run the front of house.
In 1994 Ruth was asked by Delia Smith to become a contributing food editor for Sainsbury’s The Magazine. She went on to win the prestigious Glenfiddich award for Magazine Cookery Writer of the Year twice, once in 1997, and again in 2000.
Ruth Watson was Food Editor of the Daily Mail’s Weekend magazine for 2 years, with total responsibility for the cookery pages, and was short-listed for a Glenfiddich award as Newspaper Cookery Writer in 2001. Her first cookery book, the Really Helpful Cookbook, was published in October 2000, by Ebury Press and went into a 3rd reprint within a month of publication. Fat Girl Slim, the story of her 4-stone weight loss (together with recipes), was first published in January 2004, went into 6 reprints, and has sold over 60,000 copies to date. Her third cookery book, Something for the Weekend is mandatory if you like cooking for bigger parties.
In November 1999, the Watsons bought the 18-bedroom Crown and Castle hotel in the lovely village of Orford, on the Suffolk coast. It required complete refurbishment but over the last 5 years has received glowing write-ups for the food, style and service from almost every national newspaper, including the Daily Telegraph, Evening Standard, The Independent, Time Out, Observer, The Times, Guardian and Financial Times. It is included in all the major guides, and the restaurant has 2 AA rosettes and a Michelin bib gourmand.
She lives about 20 minutes away from the hotel, in a C16th farmhouse with 120-acres of organic farmland adjoining it. The new kitchen garden produces a modicum of interesting (organic) produce for the Crown and Castle, including herbs, gooseberries, loganberries, runner and broad beans, red and white currants, Alpine strawberries, courgettes, squashes and pumpkins.