> Chefs

Gary Foulkes

‘Working at The Square was huge,’ he says. ‘There’s obviously Phil, who’s been a huge influence, but Rob Weston was the head chef when I started, and he’s a fantastic cook too. It was at The Square that I really started to understand food, based on what I’d learnt and seen on a daily basis from Phil and Rob.’

Gary left the two Michelin-starred restaurant after five incredible years as sous chef, but the next destination wasn’t another restaurant. Gary and his wife left the country – not for a holiday, but on a three-year odyssey that started in a caravan in Europe, and took them across Asia, over the Pacific to Mexico, through the United States and back to the UK. ‘I think it’s something everyone should do,’ he muses, ‘but especially as a chef, you just see so much – so many different ingredients and different ways of doing things. I’ve been back to Japan three or four different times now, and every time I go back I see something different that I can take and build into my style.’

Gary returned to a head chef position at The Square, and spent three more years at the iconic Mayfair restaurant before heading to Angler, where his food is now free to spread its wings. Dishes like Cornish turbot, line-caught squid, Japanese mushrooms and bonito dashi or tartare of yellowfin tuna with Hass avocado, wasabi and shiso show off Gary’s Asian influences, as well as perfectly displaying his style – simple food with big flavours using top-quality seasonal produce.

‘Nature writes the menu a lot of the time,’ he says. ‘Things go in and out of season and as a cook, I follow that. In my opinion, if people don’t cook seasonally, they’re just being lazy, there’s no other way around it. You won’t see raspberries or strawberries on the menu at Angler in December.’

So far, Gary has made his mark, and Angler has been very successful under his stewardship. The restaurant has retained its Michelin star, whilst creating a new reputation for itself based around Gary’s unique cooking. ‘We started here a year ago, and the food is very different now compared to what it was then,’ he explains. ‘It’s becoming more about the style – people see a picture of the food now and they know it’s mine, as opposed to wondering, ‘I wonder whose food that is?’

As a veteran of multiple two-Michelin-starred kitchens, Gary is under no pretenses about the goal at Angler – once again, he’s a realist when it comes to the future. ‘I think any chef that tells you they don’t think about awards is a liar!’ he laughs. ‘I was head chef in a two-starred restaurant, so now that I’m head chef here my natural progression is to say, ‘right, let’s get two’. I know how much it takes to get there and then to maintain it, but you might as well give it a go, right?’