Gary Rhodes

(01 Jul 2008)
Gary Rhodes' legendary dedication to his craft and relentless pursuit of perfection has placed him firmly at the forefront of todays culinary world.

Chef, restaurateur, celebrity and author; his distinguished career, tireless attention to detail and unique mastery of the Great British Classics truly sets him apart. A history of stunning restaurants has won him a constellation of Michelin stars and he is consistently revered by his peers as truly The Chef's Chef.

Well-known as an ambassador for British cuisine, Gary has achieved what no other chef has previously managed to do: he has re-introduced the nation to its rich gastronomic heritage and uncovered a culinary culture to rival that of any other country in the world. 25 years after graduating from Thanet Technical College in Kent, Gary is an extremely busy man.

2003 saw the undisputedly successful opening of his eponymous London restaurant, Rhodes Twenty Four, with spectacular views over the City from Tower 42.

Two other gourmet restaurant's in the West End will follow shortly. Further ground breaking ventures in 2004 include the opening of his first overseas restaurant premiering in the five-star Calabash Hotel on the beautiful 'spice island' of Grenada as well as major future projects set for Dubai and the USA.

2003 also saw the publication of The Complete Cookery Year (£25, BBC Worldwide), which includes the recipes from the Spring into Summer and Autumn into Winter collections, both of which accompanied highly successful TV series of the same names. The new book benefits from the addition of 100 new recipes and Gary is currently working on a brand new book for Penguin, projected publication, spring 2005.

Other new ventures include the launch of a range of bespoke condiments, comprised of delicious chutneys, sauces and pickles; a selection of children's cooking packs, Kids in the Kitchen, which contain recipes, ingredients and utensils designed to encourage a younger generation of cooks. In development is his design for a range of professional-quality kitchen accessories devised to ensure chef-perfect results in the domestic kitchen.

Gary was born in South London in 1960 spending most of his childhood years in Gillingham, Kent. He began experimenting in the kitchen as a teenager, preparing family meals whilst his mother was at work.

His first major culinary achievement, at the age of 13, was a Sunday roast followed by a classic British dessert - Marguerite Pattens steamed lemon sponge pudding. One look at his familys delighted faces as they got stuck in was enough to convince him that a cook's life was the one for him.

After training at Thanet technical college, where he met his wife, Jennie, Gary realised that he would need to travel if he was to expand his techniques and fully develop his career. Europe at that time was producing the best hotel chefs and cuisine, and his first job was as commis chef at the Amsterdam Hilton. Here, he began to experiment with nouvelle cuisine and started to challenge preconceptions of food preparation.

Success was swift and Gary went on to become the sous chef at the Reform Club, Pall Mall and then on to the Capital Hotel in Knightsbridge. Eventually he became Head Chef at the Castle Hotel in Taunton, Somerset and this is where he really started to make a name for himself - he retained the hotel's Michelin Star, at just 26 years of age!

It was during his time at the Castle Hotel that he developed the passion for British food that was to set the course for a hugely successful career, and ultimately it was where he discovered his talent for taking traditional dishes and refining them into new modern British classics.

By 1990, when he joined the Greenhouse Restaurant in Mayfair as Head Chef, his reputation as one of the UKs leading culinary masters was well established. Here, he revived great classics such as faggots, fish cakes, braised oxtails and even bread and butter pudding (which in his hands became a truly sumptuous dessert). With free rein to explore British cuisine, he embarked upon a gastronomic journey of discovery, reinventing and rejuvenating old favourites to create a new and incredibly exciting food.

Nobody was too surprised when, in January 1996, he won a Michelin Star for the Greenhouse - the restaurants first, Gary's second.

Since then, he has gone from strength to strength - in 1997, he opened City Rhodes (with global contract catering company Sodexho, their first collaboration), and next, a year later, came Rhodes in the Square.

Both were awarded Michelin Stars.

Other restaurant's followed in 1999, and Gary took a slight change of direction away from the London-based fine dining establishments into the more widely affordable and easily accessible brasseries of Rhodes and Co in Manchester, Edinburgh and Crawley. These efforts were rewarded when the Manchester and Edinburgh brasseries were both awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand, an accolade for good food, moderately priced. Of course, during this time he was not only opening restaurant's; by his own admission, his first foray into the world of TV at the age of 27 was a nerve-wracking affair. It came courtesy of Glynn Christian on the programme Hot Chefs, and it wasn't long before he was given his own series.

The tremendous popularity of shows such as Rhodes Around Britain and Gary's Perfect Christmas have made him a household name.

Pondering on such success 15 years and 13 series after those nervous beginnings, you could argue that it's his unique 'can do' approach that has made him such a favourite, or it could be his charm and charisma. Probably, though, it's the fact that he understands that the real star of the show is always the food.

His book sales (and awards) would do even Jeffrey Archer proud, and magazines, endorsements, awards and accolades have all followed. Gary has cooked on almost every continent for royalty, prime ministers, presidents and all the president's men! He has cooked on the QE2, he has cooked on the Orient Express. He has achieved many personal ambitions including cooking for, Princess Diana, the Jordan Formula One team, the British team at La Mans, and his beloved Manchester United.

Amidst all the TV appearances, book signings and glitzy award ceremonies, there's one thing about Gary that you have to understand - what Gary likes best is to cook.

Gary lives in Kent with Jennie and his two sons, Samuel and George.

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