John Burton Race is well known for being a passionate chef with a reputation that precedes him.
Having worked under chef Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, back in the 80’s, and gaining his first Michelin star whilst heading up the restaurant and kitchen, he has since moved to France and back, had books published, worked in television and owned and run his own restaurant ventures. In 2016 he co-founded a private catering venture, Two Grumpy Chefs, with Totnes based chef Chris Shervill.
With one of his previous restaurant ventures being in Dartmouth, he previously lived in Devon from 2004 to 2010 and he has now returned to enjoy the quiet that Devon’s countryside has to offer whilst enjoying an exciting and busy role with Richardson Hotel Group.
At the end of 2016, it was announced that he would be heading up the kitchen and restaurant at the newly refurbished The Grosvenor Hotel, Torquay – also with a reputation that precedes it, the hotel with a haphazard owner was the star of a Channel 4 television show, called The Hotel. A match made in heaven you may say.
At the end of the day, chefs work incredibly long hours in a job they do more for love than money, otherwise they wouldn’t do it – so passion and drive is what’s needed and can often be mistaken for a difficult personality (I too, am married to a chef, and I know how passionate they can be). Either way, whatever drives John – it works.
We thoroughly enjoyed his incredible food and delightful service at the refurbished Grosvenor earlier this year, which you can read here.
In between John Burton-Race wrestling with lobsters, and dishing out divine Michelin level food, he was kind enough to answer 10 questions for us:
1 – In your spare time (probably rare, we realise) what do you like to do to relax?
Fishing, walking, riding and shooting.
2 – With nearly a decade since your last cookbook, any plans for another on the horizon?
Yes, I’d love to write a new cook book and base it on my dishes at the Grosvenor.
3 – The Grosvenor was the venue for Channel 4’s infamous show ‘The Hotel’ with the funny but hap-hazard Mark Jenkins; did you ever watch it and, if so, is it strange being there?
No, I never watched the show nor have I met Mark Jenkins. However, I am aware that it used to have somewhat of a reputation, this however has already changed.
4 – As seen on the telly, the hotel has great potential with the event room, large restaurant, bar area and swimming pool. Are you looking forward to the variety of menus you can offer?
Yes, absolutely and new menus for all occasions are in place.
5 – I love a well laid out kitchen, and some mighty stainless steel. With a complete redesign of the kitchen, what is your favourite piece or gadget or is there something you’ve had put in that you’ve always wanted?
I have lots of gadgets but my favourite has to be my water baths and my Paco-Jet.
6 – Is there a seasonal favourite, old favourite or signature dish that you hope to put on the menu?
All of my dishes are my favourite dishes, however, I am a self-confessed chocoholic, therefore something chocolate will be at the top of my list.
7 – My husband and I enjoyed being guests on Market Kitchen in 2009 when you were cooking a brown shrimp dish with Tom Parker Bowles; do you miss doing television or is it too tiring in comparison to the adrenaline of the kitchen?
I love doing television and hopefully will do some more in the future. It’s a different type of pressure, but I love it.
8 – We shared your news about the hunt for some talent for your kitchen team, how’s that going?
The Hunt is going really well, in fact there are only two positions that I need to fill now.
9 – Once you have a great team in place, are you still hoping to fit in your private catering Two Grumpy Chefs occasionally?
10 – It must be refreshing that Richardson Hotels Group is privately owned, with just a few well picked establishments here in Devon and Cornwall. How did the opportunity come about?
Mr Richardson found me. And what a treasure he found! (I think he was contacted by my agent, Sue Hesketh)
Thanks to John for his time and answers; we highly recommend you hot foot it down to Torquay and sample his tasty offerings!
*Photos courtesy of Richardson Hotel Group.