Chef profile - Gareth Bartram of Winteringham Fields

As restaurants across the UK reopen, Colin McGurran, the owner of the Michelin- starred Winteringham Fields, is in no rush to get behind the stove.

Gareth is at the helm of a new six and eight-course menu. This dish is one from 2017. (Scott Merrylees).

Why would he when he’s on board his catamaran in the Caribbean with a world cruise yet to be completed?

It’s a remarkable story that began two years ago when Colin took a break from the relentless pressure of running a top-flight restaurant for the adventure of a lifetime, a three-year, round-the world-odyssey on his catamaran, The Recipe, with his wife Bex and three teenage daughters.

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When he set off in 2019 he left the restaurant in the hands of head chef Gareth Bartram and general manager Xavier Brette, but things didn’t turn out as planned. After sailing around Europe and crossing the Atlantic, they were cruising the Caribbean when the pandemic hit and confined them for eight months on Antigua.

Winteringham Fields is one of the region's most acclaimed restaurants.

Back home, Gareth kept in touch with his boss by text and video call but it was down to him to close up the restaurant, furlough the staff and then sit at home wondering what was going to happen next.

It was far from plain sailing in Antigua. Beside trying to keep the business afloat, the McGurrans were battling home schooling, hurricanes and visa nightmares, with the highs and lows of their remarkable trip recorded by Colin in a weekly video www.sailingtherecipe.com.

Back in less sunny Scunthorpe, Gareth has reopened Winteringham Fields. Rooms have been spruced up, the farm is back in production and Gareth is at the helm of a new six and eight-course menu. The McGurrans can complete their trip knowing Winteringham Fields is in safe hands.

What’s the first dish you remember cooking? My mum got the ingredients and we cooked a stir-fry from a Chinese cookbook from Tesco. I was about 12. I can remember the smell of the coriander.

Who or what has been your culinary inspiration? My mum, she’s a great cook and always got the best ingredients. I’m always thinking about food and ideas for dishes. Something might pop into my head while I’m watching TV and I’ll have to get up and write it down.

What was your first cookery book? Larousse Gastronomique. I was given it when I was 16, and I still have it. It’s a great book. I also enjoy reading the journeys of chefs like Tom Kerridge.

How would you describe your food? Humble ingredients taken to the next level. We do a cheese and Marmite crumpet and beef tea with truffle and cheese on toast or breaded chicken with pomme puree. It’s my take on KFC. Just tasty food.

Where do you like to eat out? Colin has taken me to some amazing places, the Ledbury, the Greenhouse, the Square, Moor Hall, Whatley Manor.

What’s your guilty food pleasure? A dirty burger from Beast Burger on Freeman Street Market in Grimsby and I’m not a bit guilty about it.

What ingredient could you not manage without? Unsalted butter. Any chef will tell you it gives a great finish to any meat or fish.

How did you cope with lockdown? It’s been good and bad. Time with my wife and children has been a blessing. Putting the children to bed, reading stories, just being a normal dad, but I’ve missed work, the guests, the restaurant.

What are the plans now? We’ve been getting ready, preparing menus, repainting and planting. We’re trying to make it more sustainable, getting rid of plastic in the toiletries, removing plastic in the kitchen, using safer products, making things more recyclable. We’ll be back stronger and better.