Gary Foulkes


Gary Foulkes

With over two decades in Michelin-starred restaurants and three years of globetrotting under his belt, Gary Foulkes is a very worldly chef. His food draws on influences from far and wide across the globe and combines them with peerless classical technique.

Cheffing has always had a strong whiff of romanticism about it. Today, the divide between chefs and artists is probably as narrow as it has ever been, especially given the power and reach of social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook; showing off has never been so worthwhile. Gary Foulkes, however, is a realist – a chef with his feet firmly planted on solid ground, who values flavour above all else.

‘You could have the most perfect looking dish in the world, but if it doesn't taste of anything what's the point?’ he says. ‘Food is for eating at the end of the day.’

Even his start in the food industry was straightforward. ‘There’s no romantic story where my grandmother was making noodles,’ Gary laughs. ‘When I was at school I got sent on a work placement at a hotel, and at the end of the week I spent a day in the kitchen. I really enjoyed it – everyone was really into what they were doing, and it was really good fun. When you’re fifteen or so, that’s all you care about isn’t it? You just want to go and have fun. I never thought about where it could lead.’

Even if he had thought about it, he couldn’t have known the path that food would lead him on. After working as a trainee at the prestigious Chester Grosvenor, Gary moved to Manchester at seventeen years old to work under the tutelage of Gary Rhodes – a man he freely admits has been a huge influence on his style.

'You could see Gary treated ingredients differently to other people I’d seen before,’ he says of his first mentor. ‘He’s very natural, and his food is very simple. Everything is cooked properly and treated with respect. That’s something I brought into my cooking – it’s not complicated food, it’s just a really good ingredient, cooked correctly, with things that accompany it naturally.’

Gary’s career led him into the kitchens of a whole series of celebrated British chefs, including John Campbell at The Vineyard and William Drabble at Aubergine, before he landed a sous chef role under his next great mentor – Phil Howard.

‘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 he truly spread his culinary wings. Dishes like Cornish turbot, line-caught squid, Japanese mushrooms and bonito dashi or tartare of yellowfin tuna with Hass avocado, wasabi and shiso showed off Gary’s Asian influences and perfectly displaying his style – simple food with big flavours using top-quality seasonal produce. ‘Nature writes the menu a lot of the time,’ he explains. ‘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 my menus in December.’

Angler was incredibly very successful under his stewardship, retaining its Michelin star, whilst creating a new reputation for itself based around Gary’s unique cooking. In 2024, it was announced that Gary would be leaving his position at Angler to become executive chef at new London restaurant Cornus.