Gary Durrant was appointed head chef at Hunter 486—the stylish restaurant within The Arch London—in September 2014. World Food Tour caught up with the chef and found out how he got into the food business, his favourite dish to cook and his chef idol.
Question: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into the food business?
Gary Durrant: I was choosing subjects for my last two years in high school and found I was really interested in studying home economics. As I could not stand woodwork or metalwork, I realised that I really wanted to pursue cooking as a career. Once I finished school I started a three-year Youth Training Scheme—I attended catering college part-time and I had a full-time work placement in a small hotel. Once this was completed I was really interested in working in London, so I applied to all of the large hotels and managed to get a job at The Savoy Hotel, I spent 6 years here. After a stint in France I returned to The Savoy as sous chef and then went on to work in various hotels and restaurants in London including Claridge’s and The Brompton Bar & Grill in Knightsbridge.
Q: What would you have been if you hadn’t been a chef?
GD: I would have liked to have joined the police force.
Q: What is your favourite dish to cook?
GD: Roast rack of lamb. You can’t beat a nice piece of tender British rack of lamb—cooked pink with minted Jersey Royal potatoes and baby spring vegetables.
Q: What are the five ingredients you always keep in your fridge?
GD: Yogurts, raspberries (because my youngest boy loves them!), avocados, cured meats, and HP sauce. I don’t eat butter, so HP sauce is my substitute on any sandwich.
Q: What’s your go-to restaurant in London and why?
GD: I have two little boys at home, so I don’t get as much time to go out nowadays! My wife and I used to love going to a restaurant called Magdalen in Tooley Street, SE1. Unfortunately it has closed now but the food was great—modern European with French influences and the ambience was very relaxed and informal.
Q: Who are your inspirations, both in and out of the kitchen?
GD: My old Head Chef Anton Edelmann is a big inspiration and supported me even after my time at the Savoy, and my two boys are an inspiration to me.
Q: Who is your chef idol?
GD: There are many great chefs out there today, it is too hard to pick!
Q: Can you tell us about a particularly memorable moment in your career?
GD: My most memorable moment was going to Japan for three weeks for a Savoy promotion in Tokyo and Kobe. It was an amazing experience.
Q: You can only live on one cuisine for the rest of your life. Which one would it be?
GD: It would have to be Asian, as that’s my absolute favourite cuisine.
Q: What is your favourite food fad and why?
GD: Salted caramel. Chocolate and Salted Caramel is a marriage made in heaven.
Q: What’s your best-kept cooking secret or tip?
GD: Clean as you go. If you work in a mess, you get in a mess.
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