Top 50 Gastropubs

Luke Payne

What got you into cooking?

I completely fell in love with it whilst studying drama at university, I knew I had one shot at getting into the industry and as soon as I graduated, I got a job washing dishes in a pub.

Why did you choose the gastropub route?

I think my passion for seasonality and sourcing quality ingredients led me in that direction. Our first menu at The Pack Horse was very basic, and each change incorporated a new technique or flavour combination I’d learnt, and it just kept on rolling with each new dish.

What do you enjoy most about your industry?

The passion for what we do that comes across from all of us involved in the industry, and the great support network and shared admiration for each other that comes with it.

Where’s your favourite place to eat in the UK?

Trinity in Clapham. It’s a breathtaking example of modern classical cookery in a beautiful setting, I love the menu format and the wine list is great. 

Who’s your biggest influence?

Hard to say, as I’m self taught I’ve never had a true kitchen role model but there are four cookbooks that are well-thumbed in our kitchen, so I’ll have to say it’s Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall at River Cottage, Adam Byatt, Fergus Henderson, and Stephen Harris.

What does being a Top 50 Gastropub mean to you?

It means everything. I’m so proud to be among our peers and people that we have looked up to since we first opened our doors. It’s very humbling.

What advice would you give to an aspiring chef?

Never give up, stick to your values, share your passion with others, turn up to work on time, and use your time off to free your mind.

Best country for food?

Italy. Culturally they’ve just got it so right with food, I love that it’s a focal point of their day and the emphasis they put on great food bringing friends and family together, and I love the regional variation in their cuisine.

Sweet or savoury?

Savoury every time.

What do you think the future holds for Gastropubs?

The future is bright, I think there’s a great new generation of young talent coming through the doors now, and although we face uncertain times, the huge support network created by the top 50 gastropubs community gives me great hope that we will all thrive together.

Job Title: Chef-owner

Key dishes/cooking style: Manchester egg, venison wellington, salted caramel custard tart

Key facts: Self-taught, Code Hospitality 30 under 30 2022