Chef’s Special: Gary Townsend, Head chef, Hotel du Vin at One Devonshire Gardens

Gary Townsend

Set in a tree-lined Victorian terrace in Glasgow’s west end, Hotel du Vin at One Devonshire Gardens offers innovative, sophisticated dining from a team which is passionate about using fresh, local, seasonal produce.

How long have you been in the industry and how did you start?

I have been in the industry for around 16 years. I left school at the age of 16 with no career plans and no idea of what I wanted to do. I went to Peterborough College to do my NVQ level 1 & 2 in cookery on a whim and never looked back.

What’s your career highlight so far?

There are two that stand out most for me. The first was my time at Martin Wishart at Loch Lomond when we were awarded the first Michelin star. It was a feeling that only few can have, and really was like no other moment! My second is taking on the role here as head chef at One Devonshire Gardens. It’s such an honour and privilege to work at such a prestigious address.

How would you describe your restaurant and its food?

One Devonshire Gardens, based in Glasgow’s west end, has a fine Scottish restaurant. With three AA rosettes, the restaurant is an elegant affair where oak panelling and chandeliers are paired with sophisticated cooking through innovative and seasonal menus and a serious wine list. The talented kitchen team in the restaurant is passionate about using produce which is fresh, seasonal, locally-sourced and, wherever possible, organic.

Describe your staff

There’s 11 of us in the kitchen and I’m very fortunate to have such a great team of chefs. They are all incredibly passionate, hardworking, energetic and committed to pushing on and succeeding.

What’s your favourite Scottish ingredient?

We have an amazing larder in Scotland but my favourite has to be scallops and I truly believe that we have the best fish and shellfish on the planet in our waters.

What’s your favourite dish to cook at home?

If I’m honest, my wife does most of the cooking at home. She is a fantastic cook, even giving me a run for my money at times!

Is there any food you dislike?

Liver. I just can’t seem to stomach it.

What’s your favourite wine?

I don’t really have a preference of wine; gin is my drink of choice. However, as a chef, the pairing of wine and food really interests me and it’s great to work with One Devonshire Gardens’ in-house sommelier, Alan Brady, on our menu. His wine knowledge is incredible.

What makes a good chef?

Someone who can listen, take instruction and finish the job. A good chef needs to be passionate, dedicated and have lots of enthusiasm as well as being open to continuously learning and refining what they do.

What makes you laugh in the kitchen?

Just general banter. I don’t think it would be possible to get away with the chat, laughs and banter in any other workplace!

Who do you admire in the industry and why?

I’ve worked with many great chefs over the years, including Paul Foster. I spent three years at Tuddenham Mill with Paul, who now has his own restaurant called Salt in Stratford-upon-Avon. His ideas, passion and love for the industry pushed me on. My time at Martin Wishart at Loch Lomond was also invaluable. The skills, techniques, discipline and guidance I had from Martin and head chef Graeme Cheevers has been monumental in getting me to where I am today.

How do you relax outside of work?

I’m an avid gym user and try to go five times a week. It really helps me unwind after a busy service, which means you’ll sometimes find me there after midnight!

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had and where was it?

I had a fantastic meal at one Michelin star restaurant Chapter One in Dublin a few years back. The food and service was flawless.

Who would you invite for your ideal meal and where would you go?

My daughter Mia – she is obsessed with food! This is a girl that was eating tasting menus from the age of six! Her favourite is Indian cuisine; to take her to India to sample authentic Indian cooking would be a dream.