Grant Jones is Chef de Cuisine at The White Horse, in Graffham, West Sussex, where his menu is inspired by classic French flavours complimented by a modern interpretation of British seasonal fare

When did you first get interested in cooking?

For as long as I can remember! There are photos of me in the late 1980s standing on crates at family parties to be able to cook on the BBQ. I was then, and still am now, utterly fascinated by how things can be made, how they can be improved and the passion and dedication that is required to make delicious food. And, of course, the reactions when people enjoy my creations.

How did you get started as a chef?

It began aged 13 with a part-time job in a quaint tearoom in Farnham. It sounds crazy but it all started with the enjoyment I derived from experimenting with cream teas and scones and from that point, I knew I’d found my vocation.

I studied Hospitality Management at university. Soon afterwards, I was lucky enough to be invited to undertake classical training at the prestigious two starred Le Gavroche in Mayfair, working for three years under Michel Roux and in-directly, his father Albert. I still feel incredibly fortunate to have had this inspirational opportunity and the subsequent placement that it brought at The Langham, also with the Roux family.

What is your signature dish?

This season, it is Tourte de Chevreuil which is also known as venison pie. Expect an elegant, light and delicate interpretation of a classic British pie, with homemade flaky pastry and the finest local venison.

All of the venison at the White Horse is procured through the Sussex Woods deer management scheme, the ethos is to reduce the amount of fallow deer on the South Downs to allow for accelerated regeneration of woodland to help with biodiversity.

If there was anyone in the world you could cook for, who would it be?

It would have to be my idols, John and Yoko. I’d create a vegan-tasting menu for them designed to blow their minds. Vegan is especially tricky to be impressive so I’d enjoy the challenge.

What do you eat at home? Do you cook for your family?

My go-to when I get home is shell-on North Atlantic prawns. I’m planning on adding my take on a ‘Pint of Prawns’ to the bar snacks at the White Horse next summer.

For my family, I’m duly contracted to cook at least once a week. The family favourite is a classic lasagne, comfort food at its finest!

What is the kitchen ingredient no one should be without?

Freshly ground white pepper - ‘blanc poivre’, is the one. It has a softer, rounder and more full flavour and is less punchy than its popular relative. Cauliflower soup is disastrous without it. I use it on around 90% of my dishes.

Favourite music to cook by?

Silence in the White Horse kitchen. Sorry! At home, it’s The Beatles.

Who is your culinary hero?

Chef Monica Galetti and Chef Rachel Humphrey, both of whom are friends from my days at Le Gavroche. Both are pioneers and inspirational women who have worked tirelessly against adversity in what can be a very challenging industry. Monica has become a celebrated chef and TV personality, while Rachel is now Executive Chef at Le Gavroche. True inspirations and phenomenal culinary talents.

The White Horse is an elegant country inn offering refined food and has six bedrooms in a beautiful village in the heart of the South Downs.