It’s safe to say that any six-year-old who will eagerly catch, gut, clean, poach and eat their own fish is probably destined for culinary greatness. This was certainly the case with Guy Owen, who was appointed head chef at The Idle Rocks hotel in St Mawes last year. It’s here that he’s able to cook with the ingredients he grew up with and let the incredible produce speak for itself. He was perhaps always destined to be in the kitchen, as most of his family were passionate foodies.
‘My whole family worked in the food industry – my grandfather managed the Leckford Estate, my grandmother was a very active member of the WI and my parents owned a pub, so I was introduced to it from a very young age,’ he tells us. ‘I suppose if I had to pick one stand-out food memory it would be fly fishing in the River Test with my grandfather. We’d catch wild trout, bring it back and then my mother would teach me how to make a basic pickling liquor. We’d eat it with brown bread, salad cream and baby gem lettuce.’
Guy got a job washing pots and making the salads in a Cornish fish and chip restaurant when he was thirteen, but he still wasn’t sure about a career in the kitchen. It wasn’t until Guy left school and went to St Mawes that he really started to get interested in being a chef. ‘I knocked on the door of Ann Long’s restaurant, who at the time was the president of the Master Chefs of Great Britain, and she gave me a trial,’ he explains. ‘She said I was very scruffy and needed a lot of work but that I had potential, so she set me to work on the bar menu. It was all very classical and I eventually worked my way up to the pub restaurant. She really took me under her wing and pushed me to be my best. After a while, Ann said there was no more she could do for me, and that I had to move up country to develop my skills.’