Kerth Gumbs


Kerth Gumbs

Kerth Gumbs' years of experience in top kitchens and playful, creative approach to fine dining make him one of the capital's most exciting chefs.

Creating a menu that takes the best of British ingredients, throws in a few international influences, showcases the very best classical cooking techniques and offers plenty of luxury in a surprisingly fun, accessible way isn't easy. For chef Kerth Gumbs, however, it's become his calling card, rising to fame during his time as head chef at Ormer Mayfair in London. But it took years of working in tough Michelin-starred kitchens, honing skills until they were truly perfected before Kerth had the skills needed to cook at such a high level.

Kerth grew up in Anguilla, a tiny Caribbean island with a population of around 15,000 that has an economy which relies almost exclusively on tourism. ‘My mum was a chef and always catered for events like weddings and funerals on the island,’ he says. ‘I was always drawn to the sounds of appreciation and how everyone would thank her and say how delicious the food was. So when it came to decide whether I wanted to do auto mechanics, woodwork or food and nutrition at school, I went for food. It just resonated with me – and it was also nice to be one of only a few boys in a class full of girls at that age!’

While Kerth studied food at school, it wasn’t his main passion – a keen athlete, he was on course to gain a track and field scholarship in the hopes of becoming a professional. However, even though he won many awards and competed on an international level, the scholarship fell through. Cooking was always his backup plan, and when representatives from Le Cordon Bleu visited his school, he decided to investigate further.

‘It all happened very fast – in September I talked to my father about moving to London to study, as options in the Caribbean were very limited, and by January I was enrolled into Le Cordon Bleu. Studying there was great – a state-of-the-art kitchen, demo rooms, friendly teachers, fresh produce – and because French gastronomy is the root of so many aspects of cooking, it was exactly what I wanted to learn. I didn’t necessarily want to cook classical food all my life, but it is incredible to have it as a foundation when you’re learning.’

After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in 2004, Kerth got a job at the famous Quaglino’s brasserie, where he stayed for the next two years until head chef Julian O’Neill saw his potential and told him to get some experience in a Michelin-starred restaurant. After successfully applying to Tom Aikens’ eponymous flagship, Kerth quickly found he loved the high pressure, fast-paced world of fine dining. After Tom Aikens he worked at Joel Robuchon’s L’Atelier restaurant, then Texture with Agnar Sverrisson. These years working his way through the ranks and learning how to prepare food at the very highest level built upon the foundations Kerth learnt at Le Cordon Bleu and moulded them into something he could use in the kitchen day-in, day-out.

By this point Kerth had plenty of experience cooking, but lacked the managerial skills needed to progress to a head chef level. ‘After working at such a high level non-stop for so many years, I was physically, mentally and emotionally drained, so I spent a few years working alongside Julian O’Neill again to learn about the business and management side of restaurants. But the call of the kitchen came back and I wanted to see something new, so I went to Singapore to work at Jason Atherton’s restaurant Esquina, which allowed me to get to know a whole new range of ingredients and flavours.’

Since then, Kerth headed up the kitchen at Ormer Mayfair for four years until he departed in 2021. During his time there, he put his own stamp on the menu by celebrating British cuisine with international influences. This is where his classical Le Cordon Bleu training, time in Michelin-starred kitchens, years spent learning business and managerial skills and influences from working around the world all came together, resulting in menus that were confident, classical, modern and playful all at the same time. While the hotel the restaurant is based in has the luxurious trappings of old-school opulence, Ormer Mayfair remains contemporary, exciting and at the forefront of London’s fine dining food scene. Kerth left Ormer Mayfair in April 2021 and is currently on the hunt for his next role. Wherever he lands, there’s definitely a bright future ahead of him – and we can’t wait to see what he gets up to.