Josh Eggleton

Josh Eggleton

Josh Eggleton

Josh Eggleton turned down jobs with some of Britain’s most renowned chefs in order to follow his dream of running his own establishment. At the Pony and Trap in Chew Magna, one of few pubs in Britain to hold a Michelin star, he served up modern British food with an emphasis on sustainability and artisanship.

Josh Eggleton grew up in South Bristol near the picturesque Chew Valley, and the chef has always been family orientated. Rising to fame 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 something world-class.

Josh 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 his pub had 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.

Menus changed daily, not due to culinary pretension, but so that Josh could make the best of that day’s exciting delivery of fresh, local and sustainable ingredients. His food is inspired by British classics in the broadest sense – Josh is an admirer of the “magpie culture” of British cuisine – and is very much ingredient-led. Dishes are playful and sometimes tongue in cheek – scallop pops, served on cocktail stocks, were a Pony and Trap favourite – while the expert flavour combinations make it clear to see how the chef effortlessly retained his Michelin star from 2011, until he closed The Pony & Trap in 2020 to turn it into a community interest company.

Josh is a long-time advocate of the field to fork movement, co-founding the popular Eat Drink Bristol Fashion festival to promote the importance of food sustainability. His dedication was recognised in 2014 when Eat Drink Bristol Fashion became the first festival ever to receive a Gold Standard catering mark from the Soil Association.

In light of this passion for sustainability it is no surprise that Josh chooses his suppliers carefully, supporting local produce and artisanship – cheese from Timsbury, trout from the Chew Valley lake and smoked salmon from the Valley Smokehouse, less than ten miles down the road. Whether it’s their famous steak and chips or a pickled ewes milk and watermelon canapé, Josh is proud to keep his customers informed of where the food on their plates has come from.

Artisanship is a discipline Josh practises himself, and at the Pony and Trap it was a policy that everything that can be was made in-house. Bread was baked daily, sauces such as piccalilli and curry sauce were made fresh and even the butter was churned on the premises. While The Pony & Trap is no longer a restaurant, diners can still enjoy Josh's food at his other venues – Root and The Kensington Arms in Bristol, plus the Salt & Malt fish and chip shops he runs all offer incredible food.