Acorn winners 2016: Robby Jenks, 29

01 July 2016

Head chef, the Vineyard hotel, Stockcross, Newbury, Wiltshire

Nominated by Matthew Drinkwater, hotel manager, Dukes London, and Andrew McKenzie, managing director, the Vineyard

Proudest moment "Being awarded three rosettes marked the start of my journey as a head chef. But I also loved being shortlisted for a Hotel Catey in 2015 and getting this role at the Vineyard where I can express myself."

Greatest inspiration "Our guests. We constantly work with their feedback to move our product forward."

Ambition "To win accolades for our team's hard work."

In January, at the age of 29, Robby Jenks took over from celebrated chef Daniel Galmiche at the three-AA-rosette restaurant at the five-star Vineyard hotel.

Jenks's culinary journey is impressive. He started out as a commis chef at Gidleigh Park in Devon, but soon found himself in a junior sous role working more closely with executive chef Michael Caines. Caines suggested that Jenks broaden his experience of two-Michelin-starred cooking styles, and so he spent a year at Whatley Manor in the Cotswolds with Martin Burge. On his return to Gidleigh Park as senior sous chef, he worked even closer with Caines, who helped him to move into the executive head chef role at sister hotel Amberley Castle, West Sussex.

It's early days at the Vineyard, but Jenks tends to develop his team from within and he is loyal. For instance, on discovering that a young chef had never had to fend for himself before, Jenks took him out to get supplies and helped him organise his life and living quarters.

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