My first experience of the trade was as a glass collector in Coventry’s busiest pub at the age of 14 whilst at the same time working in Coventry market on a fruit and vegetable stall – fantastic times and that's when I realised food and drink was for me.
In the 70’s and 80’s Coventry had one of the best catering colleges in the country so I embarked on a OND in Catering which led to a degree course in hotel management. Part of the degree was a 6 month intern in a top class hotel in Bavaria. This gave me a taste for what food and drink meant to passionate people – customers and fellow professionals alike.
As soon as I finished my degree course I went straight back to Bavaria for two years and worked my way to head waiter in an Alpine hotel. After two years I thought it was time to come back and pursue my management dreams so it was off to sunny Devon to manage the Salston Hotel in Ottery St Mary.
I was then approached to open a closed pub in Ottery St Mary – The Masons Arms. After two successful years a bigger challenge was needed. The Montagu Arms Hotel at Beaulieu beckoned and a wonderful time was had in the New Forest but I was missing pubs where real people went and had fun. In 1990 I won the UK Egon Ronay Pub of the Year at the Silver Plough, Pitton near Salisbury.
In 1992, with very limited funds, I bought the freehold of the Jack - a tired and dilapidated roadside pub. With the A30 bypass pending everyone told me it was a disaster waiting to happen. The rest is now history and after 25 years of hard work, over £7 million spent on local food alone, two kitchens and three refurbishments we are still going from strength to strength.
After serving an apprenticeship under the tutorage of Shaun Hill at Gidleigh Park, I took over the Jack kitchen in 1993. A year later we became one of the first pubs to achieve 2 AA rosettes - an award that we have maintained ever since. In the years since I have won the Professional Class of the 'South West Chef of the Year' competition and trained 3 other subsequent winners as well as the 'International Pastry Chef of the Year.'
Along the way the pub has won praise from Michelin, The Good Food Guide and Alastair Sawday whilst featuring in the UK’s Top 100 Restaurants and the UK's Top 50 Gastropubs. In the last 12 months we were named 2017 'Best Foodie Pub', 2017 'Gastro Pub of the Year' and 2017 'Local Food & Drink Hero'.
My wife Joanne is the Manageress here at the Jack and outside of work we are proud parents to Charlie and Max. For the last seven years I have worked extremely closely with West Hill Primary School teaching the children all about food miles, freshness and seasonality.
Winter 2019 marks the beginning of a big milestone for me here - 25 years!
My interest in catering started when I was in school, this lead me to apply and be accepted for the Michael Caine’s Academy at Exeter College. I spent 2 years in the Academy earning VRG Level 1 & 2 as well as being offered work experience and a part-time job here at the Jack.
Working with Matthew Mason has helped me gain knowledge and invaluable experience across each aspect of the kitchen. Although I enjoy all the different areas, my preference is the pastry section where Matthew has been brilliant in allowing me to be creative and develop my own style.
Running my own section is amazing and I am really looking forward to the challenge & further opportunity to grow as a chef.
A well travelled and rosy cheeked rugby aficionado running one of the most exciting pubs in Devon – Irresistible!
Expect good local brews on tap and a crystal clear philosophy to serve only the best Devon produce. Both restaurant and pub, the Jack has been Michelin and Good Food Guide Recommended and oozes honesty, panache and that rare four letter word – CARE.
Seasonality comes through in every dish. Ruby Red beef, Talaton porkers and Poll Dorset lamb from Whimple. All get the star treatment. Pub grub classics are given a delicious kick up the backside and the kitchen flex their creative muscles across modern, innovative menus. Look to the chalkboard for daily specials like hand dived scallops from Lyme Bay.
Menus are innovative with just a touch of alchemy. Pinned down to a description they’re Modern British. Value for money is constantly at the forefront of our minds. Throughout 2019 the 'Totally Devon' menu will stay fixed at £30 for three courses and it’s also worth remembering that all our mains come complete with seasonal vegetables and potatoes.
Having started my journey at the Jack 3 years ago I couldn’t have fallen into better hands. After being introduced to the industry for a part-time job and a bit of pocket money, the passion that I have developed for what we do here is only continuing to grow.
Having recently stepped into this new role, I’m looking forward to working closely with Paul, Jo and Matt to continue my learning, alongside my apprenticeship, for the best possible start to my career.
When I’m not working I enjoy keeping fit, running and going to the gym as well as spending time with my friends and eating out, sampling other restaurants. I’m lucky to have my family close by who I spend as much time as I can with, especially my younger brother who loves coming to the Jack for dinner!
After taking an interest in cooking at an early age, following school I attended East Devon College where I gained my NVQ levels 2 & 3 in Catering. During this time I did work experience for 2 months at Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant in Padstow where I developed various skills with a variety of fish and gained a lot of invaluable experience.
I started at The Jack in the Green 5 years ago again after doing work experience and am relishing the prospect of furthering my career here. When I am not at work I enjoy watching the Exeter teams playing football and rugby.
I began my catering career working for Paul part time whilst attending Catering College. Now some 25 years later, I still relish the challenge of working at the Jack as part of an energetic team always pushing for the next level.
Six years ago Matthew and I got married and we now live in Ottery with our two boys Max and Charlie who keep us busy and entertained when not at work. We all enjoy our trips abroad and making the most of precious family time together. As an integral part of the Front of House team here in the restaurant, I feel proud to be part of the Jack's acheivements and look forward to what is to come.
I got into Catering at the age of 13 via my first pot wash job. Back then I used to watch the chefs plate up lovely looking dishes and from that moment I knew the Catering industry was the perfect fit for me.
I have since completed my level 1, 2 and 3 in Professional Cookery and also my ABC Patisserie qualification. I did my work experience here at the Jack and it is now where I want to stay and progress. I have already learnt a lot and hope to learn more from the team around me. In my spare time I am a keen photographer and like to use my social media to show off some of the dishes I have created.
I’m a Chef de Partie here at the Jack and am in charge of salads, garnishes and cold starters. I was born in Honiton and have grown up in this area of East Devon. My love of food began at an early age when I used to go fishing with my Grandad and cooked our catch for dinner. This inspired me to learn more about cookery.
I started my career at the age of 14 at the Halfway Inn and undertook an in-house apprenticeship when I was 16, which I have continued here at the Jack. I am about to begin my Professional Cookery NVQ Level 3.
In the next five years, when I have achieved my qualifications, I see myself progressing at the Jack and moving up through the ranks to be a better chef and increase my skill base.