Local chefs tell us about their culinary experiences and inspiration

What is your earliest food memory?

I started making cakes with my grandmother before I could even tie my shoes. She was a pastry chef and the first thing she used to do when she came to visit us on a Sunday was put her apron on and bake. The smells were fantastic. I was just so intrigued and always wanted to help. It was the first thing I ever learned really, before I even went to school, so that really ignited my love for food.

How would you describe your approach to food?

It’s all about quality, nicely paired up with simple garnishes. That’s something I have always taken with me and has been at the forefront of what we’re doing at the Great Western Grill. I want to showcase the best locally-sourced ingredients – from Dover sole and Brixham crab, to venison from the Bovey estate – and cook them beautifully.

Who's your food hero, a chef who's inspired you?

When I was in London I worked in the likes of The Savoy, The Ritz, and The Dorchester, so I’ve been really lucky to work with some amazing people along the way – people like Giles Thompson and David Chambers who always inspired me. Quite a few of the chefs at Bovey now have been working with me since I first started here eight years ago, and there’s people like Simon Goodson who I’ve been working with for the best part of 15 years. You’re only as good as your team and I’m fortunate to work with some great people here.

A memorable cooking experience?

I’ve cooked for some memorable guests over the years. I’ve done breakfast with Frank Bruno, plus cooked for most of the Royal Family. But I’d say the most memorable was Elton John’s 50th birthday at the Hammersmith Palais. He had a fast-food themed birthday, so things like truffle pizzas and fried chicken and slaw. He loved it!

Your favourite dish on the current menu?

I love everything on the menu but if I was to pick one I’d say the roasted Dover sole grenobloise, Jersey Royal potatoes, and warm tartar sauce. It’s just a beautiful dish, locally sourced, perfectly executed, and simply garnished – it just sums up what we’re trying to achieve here at the Great Western Grill. I do also love the poached native lobster and truffle macaroni cheese. It plates lovely. Can I pick them both!?

A favourite dining out spot in Devon?

On my days off you’ll probably find me at Bantham Beach with the dogs, wife and two boys. I always take a picnic and a load of pork pies. It’s just a great spot to sit, eat and just enjoy some family time together.

What do you love most about Devon?

I just love the open spaces and being near the coast. I’m Devon born-and-bred having grown up in Totnes but lived in London for 24 years when I became a chef. I loved it in London but it’s nice that we’ve come full-circle and made it back to Devon. The quality of life, especially for the kids, is just so much better here so coming back has been life-changing.

A down-time/go-to meal you like to cook/eat at home?

Chilli con carne, with a good guacamole and a few beers. I can sit and eat those jalapenos all day long!