Following the passing of Gary Rhodes last night, we look at the many times the chef-restaurateur graced the pages of The Caterer.
28 April 1988: Acorn Award winner
In 1988, Rhodes was one of the first Acorn Award-winning cohorts while he was head chef at the Castle hotel in Taunton, Somerset, in the same year as chefs Nick Nairn and Bruno Loubet. He took over from Chris Oakes and had retained the hotel’s Michelin star for two years. At the time, aged 28, he said: “Young chefs are getting more and more recognition, and the lead is coming from the top, from chefs like Nico Ladenis. Starting salaries are poor, but you have to be motivated by cooking at first to be a good chef rather than by money.”
9 June 1988: The Castle at Taunton
Just two months later and Rhodes was on the cover of The Caterer once more, this time alongside his brigade and colleagues at the Castle in Taunton, including managing director Kit Chapman. In the interview, Chapman described the kitchen as the heart of the hotel, at a time when it was one of only a handful of hotels outside of London with a Michelin star.
The Castle’s restaurant had recently received an £80,000 refurbishment, which Chapman said was “an endorsement of confidence” in Rhodes, whose menu included popular dishes such as braised oxtails, Lancashire hotpot, boiled leg of mutton with caper sauce, calves’ liver with onions and bacon, and boiled bacon with split peas.
February 1989: Rhodes' Taste of Britain
In 1989 Rhodes presented his taste of Britain to Chef magazine. Rhodes told The Caterer’s Janet Harmer that he had initially been horrified when managing director Kit Chapman asked him for his thoughts on cooking a Lancashire hotpot during an interview for the position of head chef at the Castle hotel in Taunton, Somerset. It was however the start of a partnership that inspired Rhodes to revitalise British cuisine with hotpot appearing on the menu alongside braised oxtail, steak and kidney pie and a boiled leg of mutton with caper sauce. The chef said: “Unfortunately, in recent years many of the dishes I’m now so excited about have been regarded as second class. I hope more British chefs will return to their roots and enjoy cooking what is part of their heritage.”
1994: Gary Rhodes' Flavours to Savour
In 1994 Gary contributed recipes to help people see in the New Year in The Caterer's annual Best of Chef magazine. He explained that new ideas would come about as he and the brigade at the Greenhouse would be “playing about with ingredients until the textures and flavours marry well together”.
4 July 1996: Cateys Special Award
“Through his work on television, he has become an outstanding ambassador for the catering industry, helping to persuade a new generation of youngsters to look at catering as a career…
“Rhodes has always been a big supporter of the education system… ‘I owe my college tutors a lot,’ he once told The Caterer. ‘We need to go out to the schools and colleges and talk to young people about the industry. It is made up of long hours and hard work, but at the same time there is always something new to see and learn. It amounts to pride in oneself, love of the job and dedication.’
“His fame came largely from giving a modern edge to British cuisine, reviving traditions that had been lost in many of the country’s kitchens. ‘The difference between cooking in France and cooking in the UK is that French chefs never forget their traditions, and in those traditions lies the real art of cooking,’ Rhodes told The Caterer in 1989. ‘Many British chefs have no idea how to cook a classic national dish – they have forgotten how to use the traditional methods of braising and stewing.’
“That might have been the case in 1990, but it is less true today because of Rhodes’s influence. He is only 36 and, despite his success, still has a lot to give the industry.”
19 April 2007: Rhodes W1
Back on the cover in 2007, Rhodes had headed the kitchens of five Michelin-starred restaurants and been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List by this point. He still had ambitious goals ahead of the opening of Rhodes W1 in London’s Cumberland hotel in Marylebone, which turned to France for its culinary inspiration.
“Rhodes reveals that it’s quite a departure from the updated classic British cooking for which he has become famous. There’ll be no bread and butter pudding, no Jaffa Cake pudding, no jam roly-poly and no cottage pie on offer here. Rather dishes are drawing heavily on French technique for inspiration.
‘We’re still buying British produce where possible but there are strong elements of French cooking in what we’re doing… In my college days I was taught French classical cooking and my two favourite restaurants in the world are Guy Savoy in Paris and Le Gavroche in London. I enjoy eating French food more than any other and want to take that passion I have for French cuisine and give something back to it.’”