Meet the Chef – Jessika Cross 

Jessika Cross is both Manager and Head Chef at The Lord Nelson in Burnham Thorpe. A Woodforde’s Brewery pub, Jessika talks to nourish about love for seafood, the joy of shared small plates, and encouraging female chefs. 

I grew up over the border in Bury St Edmunds – my uncles both worked in the hospitality industry, and I had fond memories of them teaching me how to cook when I was five or six. There would be a new dish to cook every week, and, in honesty, I think that’s where my love for baking bread comes from today. I guess you could say I was destined for it. 

I started off in the kitchen with Crown Catering in Newmarket, often working at Tattersalls and doing outdoor catering – it was really busy! But then I moved to Front of House and worked as a General Manager. 

My wife Sara and I joined Woodforde’s Brewery shortly after they took on the long-term lease at The Lord Nelson. A year later, we lost our Head Chef, and I knew it was a case that I needed to bite the bullet and got in the kitchen, using everything I’d learnt from my uncles and my time working in catering. It was tough at first, but once I developed my first menu, I really fell in love with it. I’m now working a hybrid role as Manager and Chef, and I’ve never looked back. Woodforde’s have been very patient and supportive as I develop in the role.

Developing our first menu together was such a special moment. We wanted The Lord Nelson to serve pub food with a hint of sophistication, and it is definitely something we’ve achieved. Hearing the feedback from customers for the first time was amazing, and that continues today with all the new dishes we serve.

The Lord Nelson 
We joined Woodforde’s Brewery in October 2021. We were both amazed by The Lord Nelson’s location and its rich history and felt it such a shame it had closed. It had undergone a major refurbishment and Woodforde’s had invested heavily in making sure the original character was retained as well as ensuring a top class dining facility was created. We’ve been welcomed with open arms and love our local community. Our popularity is growing year on year and it’s great to see so many new faces. 

I love nothing more than the team coming to me with new seasonal ideas and working together to make them a reality. We all come together to try them and talk through every new dish – that’s really important to me. We are surrounded by fantastic restaurants and pubs, so it is crucial we have our own offering that stands out from the crowd. 

I absolutely love working with seafood. We cannot do without it here on the coast and there is so much variety it offers. I especially love working with fresh crab and mussels. We also have our tempura oysters with wasabi mayonnaise, lime pickled chilli and ginger. Our guests share that love for seafood too – I sell much more fish than I do steaks! 

We are also gaining recognition for our amazing homemade pies, which my wife Sara makes every week. They range from slow braised ox cheek or ham hock, cheddar, and leek, to a vegan-friendly vegetable Balti. Our range of fresh seafood really makes us stand out, too.

signature dish 
I love cooking low and slow for ultimate flavour and tenderness, so I love cooking Sara’s pies! But that mantra applies across the menu. I love our salmon fillet with crushed sea salt new potatoes, which is packed full of flavour thanks to the chorizo and paprika.

food pleasure
Even though we work in one, there is nothing Sara and I love more than finding a quaint country pub with our son. We normally enjoy a selection of small plates to share, or a big, juicy burger. 

female chefs 
Opening up the industry to females is something I’m really passionate about. Customers are always so surprised to see our female-led kitchen! I hope to encourage our future female chefs to push for lead roles in the kitchen – I definitely think we bring a sense of calm. 

I am extremely proud to both manage and cook at The Lord Nelson, and love the adaptability it brings, ensuring our menu is exactly what our customers are after. We have come such a long way in a year, and I only plan for this to get better! 

Our dream has always been to run a country pub of our own, with a couple of bedrooms attached, that serves real, honest food. Something that is not too simple, not too fancy!  

and finally
We are now into our third year of trading at The Lord Nelson, and it has been a fantastic journey so far, making a name for ourselves as a great place to visit for the whole family. After being closed for so long, it is lovely to see the pub busy and thriving again. We are currently open Wednesday to Sunday, do come along and see us! We are dog friendly and have a huge beer garden and park opposite. What’s not to love? 

• visit

• Jessika shares her recipe for Salmon fillet, crushed sea salt new potatoes, silver skins, gem, pea & chorizo – when you make this dish, don’t forget to share your photos with us #eatnourishdrink

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