Chef of the Week: Gary Townsend, Head Chef at One Devonshire Gardens in Glasgow

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I’ve been head chef at One Devonshire Gardens for five years.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
I fell into becoming a chef by accident, but it was the best chance decision I made. I went to college in Peterborough and worked at Tuddenham Mill under Paul Foster and another fantastic chef Lee Bye. Both chefs really ignited a passion in me.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
I love giving customers an experience, seeing their reactions to something I’ve created, it’s such a humble feeling.   I also think now, at my stage in my career it’s about passing some of my knowledge onto others and watching the passion coming through from my team. Of course it’s a tough career but the feeling of delivering a demanding but excellent service and seeing the pride of the team in achieving that, is golden.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Butter, chocolate and salt.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
My knives.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Experimentation with fermentation is something I’m seeing more and more, not just for the perceived health benefits, but using this in different dishes to really enrich flavour combinations.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Prioritising presentation over taste.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Tough one as each season brings its own fantastic produce, but I’d probably say autumn. I love foraging and Scotland produces some great late fruits like brambles, damsons and quince, as well as wonderful mushrooms and root vegetables.  Game season is also kicking in… the choice of how to use this fantastic haul is endless.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
I’m really proud of my National Chef of the Year final dishes this year.  My starter of Gigha halibut, maitake mushroom, wild rice, radish and mushroom noisette.  My main course of Mill bank deer – loin, heart, sausage, Jerusalem artichoke & huntsman sauce.  Dessert – Beetroot & apple tart tatin – cinnamon ice cream.

How do you come up with new dishes?
I read a lot of cook books for inspiration, eating out also helps spark the imagination, but also just trial and error. A lot of error sometimes haha!

Who was your greatest influence?
Martin Wishart had been the biggest influence in my career. My time there taught me so much. Not just in cooking style, but in approach and how to conduct yourself in the kitchen.

Tell us three chefs you admire.
Martin Wishart, Lisa Goodwin-Allen and Kenny Atkinson.

What is your favourite cookbook?
Difficult one… I have so many… Sat Bains – Too Many Chiefs Only One Indian.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
Liam Rogers from Gleneagles, a chef that’s already achieved so much in a short amount of time – certainly big things on the way for this guy and Jeremy Chan – chef at Ikoya, they have not long moved to a bigger premises and it’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
The Ledbury. I was there in the first month of it reopening this year after a nearly 3 year hiatus and it was outstanding. Brett Graham, Tom Spenceley and the team have created something so special. It was outstanding from start to finish.