In an era when children’s diets largely consisted of Findus crispy pancakes and oven chips, the young George Blogg was fortunate enough to be introduced to produce-led eating: “My family’s always liked good food, my mum and dad used to have an allotment, I used to eat everything,” he recalls. Originally harbouring ambitions to be a geologist, his mother inadvertently directed him towards a culinary profession after turning down shifts at the local Italian – and suggesting her son instead. Washing up led to prepping, then to cheffing, and what started as a means of paying for his studies evolved into an inclination (”If you enjoy something it doesn’t feel like a chore”) then a vocation. In his early twenties, the gourmet geology graduate had to choose between two passions – the result was earth science’s loss and gastronomy’s gain.
George Blogg’s résumé is an impressive read – he’s worked at two Michelin-starred restaurants: with Philip Howard at The Square in Mayfair and under David Everitt-Matthias at Le Champignon Sauvage in Cheltenham. “I’m very fortunate to have worked with both of them, they really are two of the most well respected English chefs working in kitchens at the moment,” he says. There have been stages at esteemed eateries Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire; The Ledbury in Notting Hill; and Noma in Copenhagen – all champions of locally sourced and foraged produce. Then there was a fruitful tenure as executive chef at Hotel TerraVina in Hampshire before moving on to Gravetye Manor, an Elizabethan mansion that was awarded AA Hotel of the Year England 2013-14.
His time at The Square cemented his work ethic: “It’s a busy kitchen with one section per chef. It’s your section, there’s no one else to blame. If you don’t get the job done you’re screwed, which is brilliant – it means everyday you have got to be completely on the ball,” he reveals, adding that although it was a tough environment Phil Howard has a “great attitude, he is able to step outside of what he does and look at it from an outsider’s point of view so it’s completely logical, which I find fantastic. He’s confident but he is not arrogant.”
A combination of classical training and observing mentors has formed George Blogg’s gastro-philosophy. While he’s reluctant to pigeonhole himself, believing that it’s important to “be a bit chameleon-like” he has the presence of mind to play to his strengths. George Blogg’s cuisine echoes the milieu of his workplaces, and this is none so apparent then at Gravetye: “I want [the food] to reflect what’s outside the window, what we’re growing, what’s being shot, what’s being picked – reflect the natural environment,” he explains.