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Gary Townsend

Head Chef, One Devonshire Gardens, by Hotel du Vin, Glasgow

  • What was your favourite subject at school?

I would say science would have been my favourite subject, but looking back now I wish I’d appreciated it more along with subjects such as history as I find the past, historic places and people so fascinating.

  • What was your first job?

My first part time job was working in a potato factory close to where I grew up in a small town called Chatteris in Cambridgeshire.  The soil in that area is renowned for growing excellent root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, parsnips etc, and there is a huge farming community.  My job was to grade the potatoes, pack them and load on to pallets.  It was quite physically demanding but great fun.

  • Which is your favourite restaurant /hotel?

Like most chefs I really appreciate the chance to eat out at other restaurants if and when I get the rare chance! There are many local places close to me which I love. Andrew Fairlie is outstanding, and in the Glasgow area we are spoilt with smaller independents; a few recent highlights have been Unalome, Partick Duck Club and Monadh’s kitchen.  However my favorite restaurant has to be The Ledbury in London.  I was lucky enough to get a table just after they reopened last year and it was incredible. Brett, Thomas and Jack (front of house) have created something so special, I was blown away by the experience.

  • How do you inspire your team?

I think it’s really tough in this climate because sourcing staff and then retaining them is a constant challenge. I believe in being fair and doing my best by my team.  Providing them with opportunities to do more and experience new things is important.  As a chef it’s important to evolve, change things, create new Ideas, it keeps you fresh, engaged and ahead.

  • Which person in hospitality have you most admired / inspired you?

Martin Wishart has most probably been the biggest influence in my career. My time working for him at Cameron house taught me so much. Not just in refining my cooking style, but in my approach and a chef should behave and conduct themselves in the kitchen.

  • How do you manage your stress levels?

A kitchen can be a stressful place, and as a head chef you’re never off the clock, if it’s not a busy or unpredictable service you’re dealing with, it’s managing staff, admin, stock, budgets and everything else that goes hand and hand with running a department.

 I use my downtime to read a lot and go to the gym in the mornings before work if I can. On my days off I have my two younger children to look after, so although not stress free, it’s a fantastic chance to spend quality time with my beautiful wee girls and be daddy instead of a chef.

  • Instagram, Twitter or Facebook – and why?

Was always a Twitter fan but Instagram is fantastic for being able to visually appreciate other Chef’s styles and quickly post things yourself.

  • If you had not gone into hospitality, where do you think you would be now?

Tough one.  I’m pretty good when it comes to DIY things around the house so maybe some kind of tradesman.  Although I have a real passion for space and science so perhaps something in that area. Working for Nasa would be the dream… Perhaps they need a good chef…..

  • What did you do on your last days off?

I cleaned the house, haha! With four kids and two dogs I feel I’m always constantly cleaning up… That or going to the shop… why are parents always, always at the shops?

  • What do you do to relax, to support your wellbeing?

I was just saying the other day I can’t wait for the weather to improve a little so I can get back out into the garden.  Since lockdown I’ve been growing a lot of my own veg and I really love pottering about looking after my plants or building things there.  It’s my wee sanctuary.