Gordon Ramsey inspired him but serving the Queen was this Chichester chef’s career thrill

Being mentored by TV celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay would be the highlight of most chefs’ careers - but Tony Hodge says helping to prepare a celebratory meal for Her Majesty the Queen and the late Duke of Edinburgh is his fondest memory.

Tony had the pleasure of serving Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip at London’s prestigious Fishmongers’ Hall during the latter’s 91st birthday celebrations.

He went on to work with Ramsay at his Maze restaurant in the capital and admits he learned a great deal from the often controversial and outspoken chef.

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But it was earning an unofficial royal seal of approval that stands out for Tony, even though he went on to collect a clutch of awards for his culinary craft.

Tony Hodge is the new chef at the Royal Oak in Lagness SUS-210722-114903001

Tony, who has just been appointed head chef at the Royal Oak, Lagness, said: “I was lucky enough to have a very colourful career from an early age and I am so grateful for all of the memories it has given me and of course the extensive experience I have gained through it.

“Gordon was a great chef to work for and he was quick to praise you but, as you can imagine, he wouldn’t let any sloppiness stand either. I learned so much from him at Maze.

“But serving Her Majesty and Prince Phillip was, for me, the ultimate accolade. We later learned that the occasion and food had pleased the Queen and her husband and that was thrilling. What an honour!”

Royal Oak manager Kay Martin says she considers the recruitment of Tony as a huge flip to the pub’s growing reputation for fine food.

She said: “Tony has put together a wonderful new menu with lots of lovely dishes on it that have already attracted rave reviews from our clientele.

“We’re so pleased he agreed to join our team and very much look forward to seeing him continue to develop as a chef.

“His track record so far is amazing and we expect that to continue with us.”