Born and bought up in Durban, South Africa, Chris Maingard honed his cooking skills in his family’s kitchen alongside his grandfather and mother, before becoming a globetrotting chef. He eventually set up a beach bar in Zanzibar which is where he met his wife Kimberely, an estate agent. After seven years working in Amsterdam, and with a desire to be nearer to family, the couple bought the lease on The Greyhound at Sydling St Nicholas, a former coaching inn, just over 15 months ago. It’s their first venture together and they are really enjoying this exciting new chapter in Dorset.

What got you interested in cooking?

My French Mauritian grandfather. He and my dad would take me to the market every weekend to buy vegetables and produce and then we would cook together for the whole family. My mum is a very good cook, and I still make a lot of the dishes she cooked for me as a kid. Growing up in Durban, I experienced a lot of different cultures and styles of cooking, there is a big Indian influence there, so I really know my spices.

Tell me about your culinary career?

My first placement was at the Saxon Hotel in Johannesburg. Nelson Mandela wrote his book Long Walk to Freedom there. Then I worked for Soho House Group in London. I was keen to travel, so after three years, I became chef at the Blue Marlin in Ibiza, that was followed by working on the private Island of Vamizi, just off Mozambique, as a private chef. From there I visited Zanzibar and fell in love with the place, so I set up a bar on the beach. It was there I met my wife Kimberely. We moved back to London with the Soho House Group, then we relocated to Amsterdam where I set up the kitchen in The Hoxton hotel. We spent seven years in Amsterdam. I learnt a lot of different skills there, including sushi from a very experienced Japanese sushi chef. Tha’ts the great thing about cooking, you can always learn more.

What's on the menu at the moment?

We have some nice hearty dishes on for autumn: lamb rump with Cape Malay chickpea and spinach curry; monkfish medallions with curried mussels, chicory and grilled leeks; Hunter's chicken with braised red cabbage, colcannon and my special BBQ sauce; walnut, honey and goats’ cheese agnolotti with roasted squash and parmesan butter. We also have regulars like the Greyhound beef burger and fries which we change weekly to keep it interesting, and homemade pie of the day. We have veggie options, which can be made vegan, and a more extensive vegan and veggie menu upon request.

And for dessert?

This is ever-changing as everything is made in-house by our chefs each day, but we usually offer classics like sticky toffee pudding, Eton mess and chocolate brownie.

Does local sourcing drive your menu?

100%! Everything is as local as we can get. We have an abundance of good quality produce on our doorstep. Even right here in Sydling we have honey, lamb, apples, blackberries, rhubarb, to name a few. During the summer, we had a very popular pasta dish with nettles, picked from the fields at the back of our pub. We also use beef from an incredible local farmer at Lyons Hill Farm who breeds rare Aurox cows - the 40-day, dry aged, rare breed beef ribeye, which is always on the menu, is awesome.

And what's behind the bar?

We are a free house, so having diversity behind the bar is something we strive for. We have weekly changing ales from smaller (local) breweries, spirits from local distilleries, a whisky of the month, and we can even create a special cocktail if you are hosting an event.

Are dogs welcome?

Always. We keep doggy treats on the bar for canine visitors, we sell doggy ice cream, and there are roaring log fires to snooze by. You can dine with your dog in the bar area, and we have dog-friendly bedrooms if you want to stay – we have six ensuite bedrooms. We reputedly have dogs living in the village, who pull their owners here!

What would be your perfect family meal?

If it was here, red spaghetti with braised lamb chops, it’s a dish that has been passed down through generations. I hope my kids will cook it for their kids. It takes four hours to make, but it's worth it. If I was with my whole family in Cape Town, then a braai. You can’t beat a South African braai it takes the concept of barbecue to a whole new delicious level!

Find out more at