Tale of Two Chefs
While they may share a first name, two young chefs cooking up a storm at The Tennants Arms Hotel in Kilnsey are from strikingly different backgrounds.
Owner and executive chef Tom Garland-Jones, 26, took over the business in December 2018 and has been quick to make his mark in turning the pub into a gastro haven. A quick glance at some of the dozens of rave reviews being posted by customers online shows it is a restaurant on the up. Already shortlisted as a finalist for three awards, results are pending for the Countryside Alliance Community Pub Rural Oscar, as well as the Garbutt &Elliot Yorkshire Food &Drink Awards 2020 in the Nourish Yorkshire category.
Chef Garland-Jones has now been joined by upcoming culinary star Thomas Beard, 22. Despite their youth, both chefs have impressive CVs including work in Michelin starred kitchens, but travelled very different paths to reach that point.
Chef-Proprietor Tom Garland-Jones
Garland-Jones discovered his love of cooking as a child;he paints a nostalgic picture of happy hours spent with his grandmother teaching him the basics. Armed with her skills and his passion for food, he went on to study culinary arts and business management at university before getting his career break in America as sous chef for Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri, the leading outdoor resort in the USA.
During his tenure in the States, Tom opened a golf course restaurant which hosted PGA tours and saw him in charge of a team of 200 chefs and worked at Top of the Rock, a fine dining restaurant with a whisky bar. On returning to the UK, he was appointed head chef at the Earl of Pontefract and Roger Thorpe Manor Hotel in Badsworth.
Sous Chef Thomas Beard
Thomas Beard entred the culinary world far less by design. After a contrastingly traumatic home life at the opposite end of the scale, dropping out of school, he fell into the industry with a part-time job as a kitchen porter at Freemasons at Wiswell near Clitheroe.
He explains:I started off as a pot-washer, but it was coming up to Christmas and one of the chefs left, so they gave me a go in the larder team. It was very difficult at first. The chef could be a bit tough. But it started to get a bit easier and I was doing well so they gave me the chance to do a bit of the pastry too, and I started to realise this was something I was really good at and wanted to learn as much as I could.
I have never really felt my lack of traditional training has held me back. You can have 100 qualifications, but if you can not take the pressure and learn new things on the job, then there is no point in working in a kitchen.
Chef Beard gained experience with roles at the highly regarded Angel Inn at Hetton and Hipping Hall in the Lake District, where he discovered a new passion, foraging. I learnt an incredible amount about foraging. what to look for and when, at Hipping Hall. They grew a lot of their own food, so the menu was always changing to what was in season. Learning how to use what was around you and adapt to the seasons was a fantastic experience for me.
Thomas then moved to the Michelin starred Northcote Manor, an internationally regarded restaurant which hosts the annual Obsession event where Michelin starred chefs from across the world have guest slots. Obsession was really hard work with very long shifts. There is pressure from the chefs, and pressure from the guests who are allowed to walk around part of the kitchen to see what?s going on. But it was also an incredible experience to work alongside so many famous names.
His flair in the kitchen was quickly recognised by Chef Garland-Jones when he spent a trial period at The Tennants Arms, and he is now enjoying the opportunity to create his own menus and showcasing monthly tasting menu dinners.
Chef Beard adds:I really feel I can make my mark here with Tom Garland-Jones. I like to do a lot of research, reading about how ingredients react to different temperatures, cooking times and techniques as I want to get the best out of everything.
One of his favourite creations at The Tennants is his eye-catching apple cheesecake, a traditional dish with a modern twist;presented inside an apple that has been caramelised into glass. The growing local reputation for Chef Beard has also seen him invited to give two demonstrations at the Yorkshire Dales Food &Drink Festival in 2020, on the local stage as well as the AA stage.
What the future holds
As for the future, the plan is to keep growing the reputation of The Tennants Arms.
Chef Garland-Jones said:I have been lucky to work with some incredibly talented chefs and it is great to have Thomas on-board with his ideologies alongside the balance of my business experience in turning around restaurants which were not doing so well. The key thing is understanding your customers and what they are looking for. Together we have created a real balance between the type of food that people would expect to see in a gastro pub, and the more creative dishes for those who are really into their food.
We have classic fare like steak and ale pie, gastro-burgers and fish and chips... dishes everyone will recognise, but using quality ingredients and prepared to a very high standard. But we are also creating menus which are interesting enough for people to seek us out, with new dishes for seasonal tasting menus and specials boards.
Chef Garland-Jones adds:My goal is for The Tennants to become recognised as one of the best restaurants in the Dales. That is not about going out of our way to acquire rosettes and awards. If they come along too, that will be great, but our focus is always on preparing the best quality food we can. We let the food speak for itself and that makes it food that people are already willing to travel for.