Gary Pearce, head chef at Ramon Farthing’s 36 on the Quay, Hampshire

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 15th October 2014

Ramon Farthing and Gary Pearce

Gary Pearce has moved back to become head chef at 36 on the Quay where he started his career as a commis 15 years ago. During that time he has notched up experience in some of the best restaurants in Europe having worked as a sous chef at two-Michelin starred Le Champignon Sauvage and Michelin-starred In De Wulf in Belgium, also staging at world-class restaurants like three-Michelin-starred Aqua in Germany by Sven Elverfeld, three Michelin-starred Oud Sluis in The Netherlands and the World’s Best Restaurant, Noma in Denmark. Now Gary has taken over the reins of 36 on the Quay from chef-patron, Ramon Farthing and The Staff Canteen caught up with him to see how he’s coping. Now that you’re head chef at 36 on the Quay, how does running the kitchen and menu creation work between you and Ramon Farthing? Gary Ramon and Ladies Basically I write all the menus and produce all the dishes. Ramon still acts as a support to the team and continues as a knowledge source to myself when required. My partner, Martina, is the restaurant manager now so I run the kitchen and she runs the restaurant and Ramon and Karen Farthing are the owners. I’ve always got things going on in my head with dishes, so I’ll create a dish that I think’s going to work and then me Martina, Karen and Ramon will all sit down on a Monday morning and try it and talk about what we think it needs. Obviously when there’s a dish on the menu, we listen to customers’ feedback and change things so that we’re doing things for the customers as well.
Curriculum Vitae
  • Head Chef - 36 On The Quay
September 2012 – Present (2 years 1 month)
  • Sous chef - In De Wulf
February 2011 – June 2012 (1 year 5 months) Dranouter, Belgium
  • Sous chef - Le Champignon Sauvage
December 2006 – January 2011 (4 years 2 months) Cheltenham
  • Sous chef - 36 On The Quay
June 2004 – December 2006 (2 years 7 months) Most influential chefs
  • Ramon Farthing, 36 on the Quay
  • David Everitt-Matthias, Le Champignon Sauvage
  • Magnus Ek, Oaxen Krog, Sweden
  • Kobe Desramaults, In De wulf, Belgium
  • Sergio Herman, Oud Sluis, The Netherlands
What are you trying to do with the food at 36 on the Quay? Ramon’s food was very classical; my food is very modern with little twists. I don’t go too far out of the box but I try to put things together which you don’t get anywhere else. A lot of my influences come from when I was working in Europe; I take a lot of influence from Martina and her family; they come from Poland and they all cook some amazing things so I take a lot of inspiration from them. With the food, ultimately I’d love to take it as far as I can go and get as many awards and accolades as I can but I understand this takes time and lots of experience and evolving my style. I put a menu on for lunch which is very reasonably priced at £30 which I call the ‘five moments menu’ which is basically a five-course tasting menu of my style of food and it’s actually a really, really popular menu. A lot of people have never experienced those flavours so they all say how interesting it is. I try to change that as often as I can with the changing of the seasons; it’s all locally sourced or locally foraged – on our days off me and Martina go foraging for mushrooms, herbs, plants, flowers, berries – as much as we can. Meadowsweet rice pudding with fresh strawberries & strawberry chips You’re head chef now but you also started your career at 36 on the Quay as a commis back in 1999; what first attracted you to the restaurant? I started off in a restaurant just up the road from 36 on the Quay but the owner had to sell the restaurant because he was in a bit of financial difficulty; 36 on the Quay was the best restaurant in the area so I basically walked down there and approached Ramon and asked if there were any jobs going. Luckily there was a guy leaving so he basically took me on straight away. To tell you the truth it was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I wasn’t a very disciplined teenager; I was very stubborn, not listening to a lot of people and didn’t have much respect but when I started working for Ramon he basically taught me a lot of stuff, not just about cooking but about being respectful to people and things like understanding that just because somebody’s having a go at you in the kitchen, it’s not because they don’t like you, it’s just that the food has always got to be a hundred per cent. 36 on the Quay You worked at Le Champignon Sauvage for four years; what was it like working for David Everitt-Matthias and what did you learn from him? The thing with David is, he doesn’t like people just to go “yes chef, no chef” and I was the kind of person that if he said something to me I’d always question him about it and say, “What if we did this instead?” And in the end I built up a really good relationship with him. You also worked as a sous chef at In De Wulf in Belgium; how was that experience? Did you bring back some of the techniques you learnt there like fermentation of vegetables? When I was there, on the lunch menu the sous chefs used to design the starters, the pastry chef designed the dessert and you’d basically just put it by David and if he said yes it would go on the menu. It was a proper team and it brought out my creative side because I got to experiment a bit more. When I first went there it was very difficult because of the language; I knew a bit of French but not enough to hold a conversation and I’d never spoken Flemish before. I was working in a foreign kitchen away from my family and my partner, so it was one of the most difficult times in my career; but Kobe [Desramaults], he was the same age as me so it was very interesting to see what he’d achieved. Pea panna cotta and lovage soup with salt baked beetroot, pea shoots & pansies I worked my way up through the kitchen to be sous chef and I had quite a lot of input. We changed the menu every day. We used to forage for a lot of mushrooms and herbs and I knew a lot about that from David [Everitt-Matthias] so I had a big input into that. Kobe taught me a lot about salting, curing, pickling and fermenting and basically just letting the produce do its own thing and just do a few little things to maintain the freshness and quality. Are you treating 36 on the Quay as your own place or would you like somewhere with you own name over the door? Yes Ramon and Karen feel that this is the way forward and the best way to run the business and it’s a fantastic experience for us. We would love to own something like 36 in the future as it’s ideal in so many ways as a restaurant. Photography credit to Repertoire Food and Design Limited and taken from Penny Ericson’s new cookery book ‘Meats, Eats, Drinks and Leaves’.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 15th October 2014

Gary Pearce, head chef at Ramon Farthing’s 36 on the Quay, Hampshire