Scott Goss


Scott Goss

A champion of Kentish produce, Scott Goss cooks comforting dishes full of familiar, nostalgically British flavours as executive chef of the I'll Be Mother restaurant group.

The Garden of England is probably one of the best places a chef in the making can be born and raised. Kent is known for its fabulous, abundant produce, and it certainly helped shape Scott Goss’ style, ethos and approach to cooking incredible food. ‘I was always surrounded by great ingredients,’ he recalls. ‘Mum was a fruit picker on the farms so I’ve got loads of great memories of running through the orchards in and around Gillingham. There was always a home-cooked meal on the table every evening, and by the time I was fourteen I knew I wanted to be a chef.’

After getting a taste for professional cooking thanks to his uncle, who got him a summer job down in Dartmouth, Scott enrolled at Thanet College. After two years of studying his lecturer pushed him to go for a position at Gary Rhodes’ restaurant City Rhodes, in London. Even though he didn’t feel ready, Scott excelled there and started to develop his career. ‘I worked my way through the kitchen at City Rhodes and Rhodes in the Square, picking up the classical side of cooking and French techniques,’ he says. ‘I then went to work with Anton Adleman at Allium for a year which was an amazing experience – the food was at the same high standard but it was a different style of cooking – before returning to help Gary set up a new restaurant. It was always very challenging but great fun at the same time.’

If there’s one chef that Scott sees as a mentor, it’s Gary, who tragically passed away in November 2019. ‘When you’re working with someone like Gary, you can’t help but be influenced by him,’ he explains. ‘His food looked effortless and simple but it was incredibly difficult to cook. He would never add unnecessary garnishes or smears on plates, which is something that’s obvious in my cooking too. I laughed to myself when I saw the trend for British pub food done to a Michelin standard start to take off, because I was helping Gary do that fifteen years ago!’

After working his way through some of London’s best restaurants, Scott needed a breather. He returned to Kent with the aim of staying for just six months before heading back, but after an introduction to Peter Cornwell, the owner of The Swan in West Malling, he decided to stay put. ‘I worked as chef de partie at The Swan for a few years, just keeping my head down and not doing anything particularly noticeable, but Peter saw something in me and after three years I was made head chef at twenty-five years old,’ he says. ‘I worked there for seven and a half years and we achieved great things – including two AA rosette’s soon after I started – although when the recession hit in 2008 it was very difficult. I was a very young head chef and didn’t really know what was going on to be totally honest – I was just in that kitchen every day cooking my heart out. We were lucky enough to be featured on The F Word’s Christmas special, which was fantastic. It’s true what they say: if you’re on TV look out for the bookings!

‘After that I worked at The Swan at The Globe in London for a year, to see if I could take my food and make it work in the capital,’ continues Scott. ‘But by then me and my partner were expecting our first child, so we came back home again. At the same time, Peter was looking to grow and do his own thing away from business partners, so he started the I’ll Be Mother group.’ This was part of a plan to expand the ethos of The Swan to other venues, including among others The Twenty Six – a restaurant with just twenty-six covers and a seasonal, constantly changing menu – and The Beacon, which focuses on ingredients from its kitchen garden. And Peter wanted Scott to be a big part of it.

‘After an emotional move and a stint at Chapel Down while everything was being finalised, we opened The Twenty Six and The Beacon,’ says Scott. ‘Launching two venues in the same year was absolutely crazy, but we’re a year in now and it’s been fantastic. We were even chatting with the guys from Michelin in September, who said some very encouraging things.’

Scott became executive chef at The Twenty Six, in Tunbridge Wells, as well as executive chef at The Beacon and The Swan. This was where his simple yet confident cooking style came to the fore, where the ingredients could speak for themselves. He remained here until the end of 2018, shortly after appearing on Great British Menu, to open a new restaurant in nearby Tonbridge – Verdigris.

‘The question was always niggling me – could I do something on my own?’ he says. ‘There was nowhere in Tonbridge that was offering what we wanted to do, but then you think there might be a bloody good reason for that! Regardless, we gave it a go and I absolutely loved the site – you have the castle overlooking the place and we were right next to the river.’

With a 1920s aesthetic, impressive cocktail bar and a menu full of modern British dishes with plenty of familiar, nostalgic flavours, Verdigris quickly became a reason to visit the Kentish market town. ‘Half of the offering there is the bar – it's not just a restaurant,’ Scott explains. ‘I was super excited about that, and working alongside Jim was fantastic – we’ve known each other for years so working together comes naturally.’

After the coronavirus pandemic devastated the hospitality industry, Scott left Verdigris and returned to the I'll Be Mother group as executive chef, manning the kitchen most days at The Beacon. His signature style of taking familiar ingredients and dishes but elevating them into something refined, interesting, nostalgic and often playful continues to be at the core of everything he does.