Pete Gray

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Pete’s time at Danesfield House shaped him into an accomplished chef with plenty of Michelin experience, but the lure of travel saw him leave to do a ski season in Europe. ‘I didn’t want to go to London as it was too busy, so I decided to meet up with some friends in Méribel in the French Alps to cook for the skiing season over there,’ he explains. ‘I ended up doing that for three years, going to places like Marbella and Corfu to work during the summer, but then I got bored and decided to get back into the kitchen. Originally I was toying with the idea of becoming a private chef, but it can be quite lonely and frustrating so when I came across a junior sous chef job at The Hind’s Head I jumped at the chance.’

The move from restaurant food and cooking in chalets to a Heston-owned gastropub meant Pete would experience yet another type of cooking, especially considering the number of diners. ‘I’d worked to a Michelin standard before but that was at restaurants doing thirty-five covers, whereas you’d get into The Hind’s Head in the morning and they’d say ‘OK, we’ve got 100 booked in for today’. It was a bit of a shock! What really stood out was the sheer amount of detail and technical work that went into every dish. When the diner gets something like the chicken, ham and leek pie it looks quite simple and rustic, but there’s an awful lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to make it taste the way it does.’

Rapidly rising to the challenge, Pete steadily rose through the ranks at The Hind’s Head, being made sous chef, then senior sous chef and finally head chef in November 2017. Being his first head chef job, Pete was entirely focused on maintaining the quality of the food during the first few months, and is now firmly established as the head of the kitchen. ‘I have free reign to come up with ideas and put dishes forward for the menu, although it takes quite a bit of time for that to happen because we like to ensure everything about a dish is perfect before it’s served to customers,’ he says. ‘Now that I’m settled in we’re working on a couple of things which will come onto the menu in the coming months, and we’re always refining and tweaking existing dishes to ensure they’re as good as they can be.’

Working at a restaurant like The Hind’s Head, which is owned by Heston Blumenthal and is part of The Fat Duck Group is slightly different to other head chef jobs. With various development kitchens across the road from the restaurant and the input of people such as Heston himself and Ashley Palmer-Watts, there’s a more collaborative method of implementing changes to the menu and introducing new dishes. But Pete has proven himself a more than capable head chef, ensuring The Hind’s Head continues to be a destination restaurant that serves incredible British classics with a quirky Heston twist. The dishes themselves might look simple, but the amount of work that goes into ensuring every plate that leaves the pass is as perfect as can be is astounding.

Three things you should know

While Pete continues to prepare the same dishes that have made The Hind’s Head such a success, he has changed the way the kitchen works to be more efficient.

The Fat Duck Group’s ‘Question Everything’ mantra is fully engrained into the way Pete runs the kitchen at The Hind’s Head, with existing recipes constantly reviewed and tweaked.

Pete works closely with The Fat Duck Group’s chef director Ashley Palmer-Watts when coming up with new recipes, using the company’s recipe and article database for inspiration.