More and more, the Cotswolds is becoming known for being a hub for foodies all over the UK and, indeed, the World. With an abundance of fresh, quality ingredients right on the doorstep, from locally produced cheeses, fruits and vegetables to pork, lamb and even fish from our local trout farms, the Cotswolds is the perfect place for any chef to share their culinary gifts.
This list of Seven Amazing Chefs in the Cotswolds is a bit of an insider's guide to some of the very best restaurants in the Cotswolds. But enough about the restaurants, because after years of dining out in this amazing region I call home, I have shared so many great food experiences but more often than not, it is the restaurants and hotels where the meal were enjoyed, that got the praise, not so much the chefs.
So with this list of Seven of the Best, I hope to change that. Some of the seven are well-known and some are new, up-and-coming names in the Culinary Cotswolds. The common denominator for all seven is a love of food, a great skill and the wish to grace our plates with some of the very best food out there.
1. Ian Percival
The new Head Chef at The King's Hotel is Chipping Campden is one to watch. Ian Percival has cooked and worked with food his whole life. Having lived in Cornwall and the Cotswolds, he has had his training is the best possible regions for great produce in this country. Before The King's, he worked in the fine dining restaurant at Brockencote Hall, a sister hotel to The King's from the Eden Hotel Collection.
The restaurant at The King's is, arguably, the cosiest in the Cotswolds. With low beams, open fire and dimmed lighting, the mood in this lovely Cotswold restaurant is set in a wonderful atmosphere, and since Ian Percival put on the Head Chef's hat at the end of 2015, the restaurant has gone from strength to strength, with Ian and his team serving up what he himself calls "pub grub with a gastro gourmet twist".
I have been lucky enough to experience Ian's culinary skills on a number of occasions and even dine at The King's for an exquisite 8-course dinner and it was right up there among the very, very best food I have ever tasted.
2. Richard Craven
Just 3 doors down from Ian Percival at The King's in Chipping Campden, another master chef is found: Richard Craven. In just a few years since he opened his own restaurant, The Chef's Dozen, his name is often mentioned as one of the greats, and not just in the Cotswolds.
At The Chef's Dozen, Richard Craven offers one short menu of 'the chef's dozen', a menu that changes daily, weekly, monthly as the seasons change and as his local suppliers' produce changes. He uses only high quality organic and wild ingredients from his carefully chosen list of local suppliers.
Richard Craven's amazing food and beautiful restaurant is something we can be very proud of having in the Cotswolds.
3. Will Greenstock
Will Greenstock is one half of the Greenstock Brothers who own and run Horse & Groom in Bourton-on-the-Hill. His brother, Tom, handles all things front of house and Will is the chef. From his post at the front, Tom is the brother who is seen, known by most and who is the life and soul of the wonderful Horse & Groom. But in the back, in the kitchen, Will is the backbone, the culinary wizard and the reason people come back again and again, because his food is, quite simply, among the very best in the Cotswolds.
Will Greenstock is another chef in the Cotswolds who makes the most of the local produce. He uses only the best ingredients and creates his dishes with minimal fuss, allowing the natural ingredients to shine.
I love Will Greenstock's food. It is unpretentious fine dining at it's very best.
4. Ethan Rodgers
When you dine at wonderful The Wheatsheaf Inn in Northleach, your next culinary experience is in the capable hands of Michelin Bib winner, Ethan Rodgers. Ethan started his career at of London's most reputable restaurants, including The Dorchester and the Conrad, and he is now sharing his culinary gifts with us in the Cotswolds.
Ethan Rodgers' food philosophy involves fine locally-sourced produce, cooked simply and served in a way that allows the food to speak for itself. Ethan's food is plentiful, beautiful and full of flavour, a real master in the kitchen.
I love The Wheatsheaf Inn, it's one of my favourite dining pubs in the Cotswolds, and the fact that food is cooked by a super star chef in the kitchen, is the reason I will keep coming back again and again.
5. Emily Watkins
Emily Watkins rose to fame when she entered The Great British Menu and won with her fish course in 2014. She has since appeared on TV with both The Hairy Bikers and Tom Kerridge, as well as in national and international press and she has won several awards for her fantastic cooking. So Emily is one of the famous chefs in the Cotswolds that is known the World over, and how are we, that her restaurant, The Kingham Plough, is just minutes down the road? Very lucky indeed!
Dining at The Kingham Plough is a wonderful culinary experience. Emily first trained as a chef in Florence, Italy and later she spent years training, learning and working with Heston Blumenthal at The Fat Duck, an experience that still shows in her cooking today. Heston Blumenthal was and is the biggest culinary rule breaker and the way he looks at ingredients and flavour combinations is what sets him apart from pretty much every other chef in the World. But his genius and his methods he shares with those he works with and Emily's skills and culinary gifts were clearly enhanced by working side by side with this giant of gastronomy.
6. David Kelman
Like Emily Watkins, David took part in the Great British Menu and won the Welsh heat in 2014.
For five years David Kelman has been the Head Chef at one of the most luxurious hotel in the Cotswolds, 5-star Ellenborough Park. So a 5-star hotel needs a 5-star chef, obviously, and David Kelman is just that. He has succeeded in retaining the restaurant's 3 AA Rosettes and has scooped a great number of culinary awards and accolades, both for his cooking but also for his tireless championing of local suppliers and produce.
I have been lucky enough to enjoy David Kelman's culinary gifts on a number of occasions and they are just... out of this World A-MA-ZING! If you're ever in the Cotswolds looking for the best in fine dining, get yourself booked in for a meal by David Kelman.
7. Steve Brown
When you get to experience the culinary gifts of this list's last chef, you get more than a meal.. you get "Dinner and a Show".. oh, and you even leave a better chef yourself. Because Steve Brown is Head of The Cookery School at Daylesford and he is a master in his kitchen.
Steve spent years cooking in Michelin-starred kitchens but then decided to leave the path he was on and instead follow his great passion for sustainable, organic food and cooking as well as teaching his gift to others. At Daylesford he gets to do all that and much more.
I have experienced Steve's cookery skills on a number of occasions at Daylesford and each time he has blown me away with both the tastiest dishes and a fantastic "show". Book yourself in for a culinary experience and you will be in for a culinary master class like no other.