Gary Jones

In 1990, a year to the day after taking over the sauce section at The Waterside, he began his new job at Le Manoir as chef de partie. Within three months he was offered the role of sous chef, but not having worked on every section in the kitchen, he turned it down. In typically devoted fashion, he wanted to be sure of knowing every single last detail before taking such a position in a kitchen with the likes of Michael Caines, Aaron Patterson and Clive Fretwell at the stoves. After a year of dedicated graft, he accepted.

Keen to continue moving onwards and upwards in his career, and conscious that Clive Fretwell (then head chef) was unlikely to move from his position at Le Manoir, Gary decided to look for another job. Richard Branson part-owned Le Manoir at the time, and a position came up on Necker Island, his private, luxury resort. Having impressed Branson with his success in training young chefs at Le Manoir, Gary took an executive chef teaching role on the island, arriving in the early 1990s.

Adapting to local ingredients and the more relaxed style of cooking on the island, Gary's typical dishes celebrated the island's bounty – grilled tuna teriyaki with coriander, for example, or barbecued lobster to be enjoyed on the beach. A short stint in the Maldives followed, but Gary was now reflecting on what it was that he wanted to achieve in life. The UK and the possibility of earning his own Michelin star beckoned.

In 1996 he took up a position at Homewood Park in Bath and by 1998 he had earned his first Michelin star, along with four AA rosettes. From that point on he was a highly respected chef and was soon asked to head the kitchen at Waldo’s, the renowned restaurant of Cliveden, a luxury country house hotel in Berkshire. Cooking dishes such as pan-fried calves’ liver with pancetta, ceps, garlic mash and a red wine jus, Gary was awarded his second star, another four AA rosettes and 8/10 in the Good Food Guide.

One day, Raymond Blanc came to dinner at Waldo’s. Before he’d even got to the main course, he was out of his chair and complementing Gary on the quality of his food – from then on, Raymond was set on tempting back his old employee. Gary needed little persuasion, and in 1999 he was appointed executive head chef of Le Manoir, a happy return for this incredibly talented and dedicated chef.

More than twenty years later Gary still heads up the kitchen at Le Manoir, working with Raymond and retaining the two Michelin stars that the restaurant has held since 1981. Together with Raymond and his incredible team, Gary always strives to achieve the very best; to make a meal at Le Manoir a complete and divine experience with every detail and component flawlessly executed. Classical technique is, unsurprisingly, still at the heart of Gary’s cooking.

Dishes at Le Manoir are famed for their fresh, direct flavours. 'I don’t believe our food is overplayed,' says Gary. 'I believe that it’s natural, it’s respectful and it tastes of what it is – we treat it as simply as we possibly can. And we’re just taking the pure essence of that product and putting it back into the plate.'

The exceptional, Soil Association-certified kitchen gardens created by Raymond at Le Manoir is what Gary describes as 'our secret weapon'. He works closely with the resident garden team when developing the hugely seasonal menus, using the singingly fresh organic produce at the very peak of its perfection.

Three things you should know

Teaching has always been at the heart of any role that Gary takes on. At Le Manoir, he oversees a thirty-month development programme for young chefs, not only taking them through every section of the kitchen, but also filling in any gaps with dedicated training courses.

Gary was the chairman of The Craft Guild of Chefs' National Chef of The Year in 2018 and 2019, one of the most respected competitions in the industry.

Gary is a black belt in karate!