Josh Eggleton grew up in South Bristol near the picturesque Chew Valley, and the chef has always been family orientated. Now running a hugely popular Michelin-starred pub with his sister Holly, Josh Eggleton also cites his grandparents and father as integral to his early fascination with food. His grandparents encouraged him to bake, mastering British favourites such as Victoria sponge and upside-down cake from an early age and giving him confidence in the kitchen: “I actually opted out of cookery classes at year 10 when I was at school, as I thought I already had cakes well and truly under my belt!”
Perhaps the biggest influence on the way Josh Eggleton cooks today, though, was his father. As well as owning his own business – something Josh felt from a young age that he himself would like to do in future – he did a lot of the household cooking. While his father’s repertoire was limited to “simple things like spaghetti Bolognese and quiche”, he was still able to provide his son with an invaluable knowledge of the basics that he has carried with him throughout his life.
When he was fifteen years old he began working at his local fish and chip shop, followed by jobs at a nearby pub and in a John Lewis restaurant when he left school, the latter helping him appreciate the logistics of “catering en masse”. In 2003 Josh Eggleton’s promise was recognised, and the young chef became a Gordon Ramsay Scholar. This accolade allowed him to take in the culinary cultures of Sicily, America and France by working in such world-renowned establishments as Il Mulinazzo, Chanterelle and The French Laundry. Upon his return he turned down jobs with the likes of Gordon Ramsay, Angela Hartnett and Marcus Wareing, instead moving back to South Bristol determined to open a place of his own. Backed by various members of his family, and with Holly in charge of the front of house, the pair took over the The Pony and Trap in Chew Magna, transforming the kitchen into what it is today.
Josh Eggleton is rather bemused by critics’ attempts to define his venue and cooking, remaining somewhat indifferent to the “gastropub” tag. Despite the Michelin star and other accolades he is proud that the pub still has a relaxed, unpretentious atmosphere – “local farmers still come in for a pint of beer!” – where diners are equally welcome to come in for a portion of chips as they are for a three course meal.