Creative cuisine at The Bluebell, Chigwell
PUBLISHED: 15:15 10 April 2017 | UPDATED: 15:15 10 April 2017
The Bluebell's Gavin Maguire on getting inventive and his continuing search for 'good pub food'
What do you do?
I’m the owner and head chef at The Bluebell in Chigwell.
What do you love about your job?
I still love the buzz of being in the kitchen and I love that the buck stops with me. I have complete creative freedom from the menu to the décor. The Bluebell has recently had a refurb because I wanted to make sure the standard of the restaurant matched the standard of the food. I think we’ve come up with something even more elegant.
How did you get into cooking?
I started as a 14-year-old Saturday boy at a local café where the menu was bigger than we have at The Bluebell now, but I can’t say I really fell in love with cooking until I was a little older.
Where did you train?
I started off with Gary Rhodes at The Greenhouse at the time when Gary was always on TV. I was commis chef and the most valuable lesson I learned was to get moving – kitchens are very fast-paced. Working for Gary certainly opened a lot of doors for me, my next commis chef job was at Lainston House in Winchester then a chef de partie role at The Cliveden which was, at that time, the number one rated hotel in the country. After that I spent time in several Michelin starred properties, including The Aubergine, The Capital and Chapter 1, then worked for a big branded company, Individual Restaurants, which gave me a great insight into the ‘business’ side of things.
When did you arrive at The Bluebell?
I started as head chef seven years ago and, when the opportunity arose, I took it over without a second thought. Starting up is a lot of time and effort, nothing can prepare you for the intensity. The only downside is I get less time to do my favourite thing – play around in the kitchen.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Still running the business but more focused on development and growth but, even if I’m not running the kitchen day-to-day, I’ll still design the dishes. It will mean my time there is more of that fun, creative side of things.
Where do you live?
Chigwell. You get the best of both worlds, countryside but still close to London, and it’s a very easy commute to work.
What do you do to relax?
I tend to eat out quite a lot, I really enjoy it but, admittedly, I can be quite critical. I always look at the menu, I always know who the chef is and I have expectations. I like the fine dining restaurant, but I still enjoy a burger and chips now and again, or a Chinese take-away. The one thing I’m always looking for is really good pub food, I’m still looking…
What makes you happy?
Days off, the sunshine and spending time with my other half or my son, just hanging out.
117 High Road, Chigwell IG7 6QQ
020 8500 6282