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Q&A with Judy Hutson, Stylist of The Pig Hotels

If you haven't heard of The Pig hotels you are missing out. We were lucky that Robin & Judy Hutson opened the first Pig just down the road from us in the New Forest and since then their eclectic, rustic and ever so charming style has branched out to six locations with, happily, more on the way. We have been to all of them: for dinner, a holiday or just a couple of drinks and we always go back. Their friendly and relaxed atmosphere absorbs you in seconds and then the appreciation of the buildings, interiors and food begins. Each Pig is unique but there are similar values that are apparent throughout. The focus on locally sourced food, mostly from their idyllic and expertly managed kitchen gardens will keep you very satisfied at breakfast, lunch and dinner and is a staple of their ethos. And if you decide to stay, all the interiors, designed with a different "character" in mind will give you varying, yet very "Pig" vibes.

We love everything they do and their latest venture is to share their wealth of knowledge garnered over the past 8 years of running the hotels and restaurants in the form of a book, so we can all have a little slice of Pig lifestyle in our own homes. We are also lucky enough to count the two people behind the hotels amongst our lovely regulars instore. So we thought the launch of The Pig: Tales and recipes from the Kitchen Garden and beyond was a great excuse to sit down with their interior stylist Judy Hutson to find out how she feels about not only being a decorator with coveted style, but also a published author.

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Tell us a little bit about The Pig hotels. What makes them distinctive.

The Pig Hotels. When we opened the first Pig in the New Forest in 2011 the Country House Hotel Scene was dominated by over formal, over fussy and over priced hotels to the point that guests were intimidated to even go up the drive. We have tried hard to create relaxed home from home environments offering good food and friendly hospitality at a more affordable price point.

The Kitchen Gardens have given us our USP and inform everything from the style of cooking through to a clue for the interiors.
The thing that most guests comment on is the enthusiastic, motivated and passionate staff which has always been a hallmark of my husband Robin's brand of hospitality.

You and Robin have worked together for years. How do you manage a work/home balance?

Our work/home balance...... It is true we have worked together for 25 years on countless projects. But the truth of the matter is when you are involved in the world of hospitality there is always a very blurred line between work and pleasure. When in the heat of a project it is certainly true that work completely takes over our lives but there again we love what we do and always reward ourselves with a few holidays along the way.

An image of a pig from The Pig: Tales and recipes from the Kitchen Garden and beyond Book
An image of founders and co-authors Robin and Judy Hutson in The Pig: Tales and recipes from the Kitchen Garden and beyond Book

Tell us a bit about your career and how you came to The Pig?

In fact Interior Design is my second career. For the first 20 years of my working life I practised as an Occupational Therapist in Short Term Acute Psychiatry. It was only in 1994 when Robin opened the first hotel du Vin that I became involved in Interior Design. I have no professional qualifications in this area and even after close to 20 hotel projects I still consider myself an amateur.

The hotels have beautiful working vegetable gardens. Are you a gardener?

No I’m not a gardener but fortunately our eldest son Ollie is. He now runs all of the Kitchen Gardens at The Pigs and a nursery that supports this operation and has a team of around 20 Kitchen gardeners across the hotels.

An image of kitchen gardeners in The Pig: Tales and recipes from the Kitchen Garden and beyond Book
An image of home grown vegetable in The Pig: Tales and recipes from the Kitchen Garden and beyond Book
An image of home made pickles and preserves in The Pig: Tales and recipes from the Kitchen Garden and beyond Book
An image of Nan's Rice Pudding in The Pig: Tales and recipes from the Kitchen Garden and beyond Book

Who is the cook at home? And what is your signature dish?

We both cook and somewhat stereotypically in rather different ways. Robin throws together combinations from the fridge and pantry without referring to anything and I meanwhile am a pedantic recipe follower. Believe me if a recipe asked for 20 mustard seeds there is no way I could live with 19 or 21!!! We avoid cooking together as there would be World War 3! A firm favourite of the boys that I make and even deviate from my friends hand written smudged recipe is Beans and Rice with loads of coconut cream and fistfuls of coriander.

 

Do you get handy hints from the chefs at the hotels?

Not really but we have lots of friends who are chefs so being around them all the time I do pick up things from watching them.

 

What is your must order dish on The Pig menu?

The Pig menus change all the time according to season and are different between each hotel but I love the section on the menu titled “Mostly Picked this morning” which always includes loads of interesting garden veggie dishes.

Each hotel feels related but not the same. How do you manage to make each interior distinctive and yet clearly ‘Piglike’

We are very conscious that we never want our collection of hotels to look a cookie cutter roll out. Fortunately the inherent character of our historic buildings offer us the clues to work with. I do sometimes have an imaginary person in my mind when thinking about each property and then try to decorate as they might have done. So, for instance, The Pig on the Beach has always felt like an eccentric artists home so Aunt Dorothy appeared on the front lawn complete with easel, paint smeared faded smock, battered straw hat and paint palette. In spite of all this individuality I suppose the common theme is that every element that goes into the Interiors have been chosen and sourced Robin or I.

 

 

An image of stylist Judy Hutson in The Pig: Tales and recipes from the Kitchen Garden and beyond Book
An image of a Pg Hotel bedroom interior design in The Pig: Tales and recipes from the Kitchen Garden and beyond Book

How about an interiors book after this foodie one?

I somehow doubt it but never say never!

 

Do you have a favourite Pig? Or is that like having a favourite child?

I am often asked this question and can honestly say that like having children I don’t have a favourite but the first one and the most recent that I have lived intensely with for many months have a special place in my heart.

 

You’re a Winchester local. Any undiscovered gems we should know about?

We love having a rummage at Mayfly Vintage near Stockbridge, the convenience of the KPO (Kingsgate Wines & Provisions) with its cornucopia of goodies on our door step is great and I’m mildly obsessed with the Danish Rye loaf at Hoxton Bakery.

 

An image of one of the Pig hotels' kitchen gardens in The Pig: Tales and recipes from the Kitchen Garden and beyond Book

The Pig: Tales and Recipes from the Kitchen Garden and beyond is availble instore and online now

Shop The Pig Book ►

 

Learn More about The Pig Hotels and Restaurants

The Pig Website ►

The Pig Hotels' Pig emblem