Mark and Sarah Dodson bought number 22, Masons Arms, in 2005 with it being awarded a Michelin star within the first year which it has retained until today with current head chef Olivier Certain.
Certain joined the team in July 2020 after working as head chef at fellow Top 50 Gastropub, The Swan at Bampton. He brings his French flair to the seasonal British menus. During shooting seasons, diners can expect a plethora of game served alongside local ingredients.
We sat down with Olivier to find out more about his background and what inspires him.
Did you always want to get into cooking?
I’ve always loved eating great food and have travelled to many different countries to visit my dad as well as my aunty in Normandy. All of this made me want to work in kitchens.
What do you enjoy most about your industry?
I love a great atmosphere in pubs that serve great food, it makes me want to work in them
Where is your favourite place to eat in the UK?
My favourite place to eat is Woods in Dulverton which I hope one day will be in the Top 50. It’s a great pub serving great food with matched wines and lovely beers. I used to work there as my first head chef position
Who’s your biggest influence?
Andrew Dixon was a big influence on my cooking when I had my first sous chef position at Porlock Weir. Nowadays its Mark Dodson.
Tea of coffee?
Always coffee, I drink too many but keeps me going, also I love an espresso after a meal out.
What does being a Top 50 Gastropub mean to you?
It means a lot to us, it’s a reward for the whole team’s hard work
What’s your favourite ingredient right now?
Olive oil, being from south of France it’s something I love cooking with. Salt as well, without it everything would be bland.
Do you have any key dishes or signature cooking styles?
We cook a lot of Mark Dodson classics like our tuna with Thai salad. We are season driven so try to use the best ingredients in available to us. Our style is classic British with French roots.
Biggest achievement to date?
Being head chef at the Masons Arms
What do you think the future holds for gastropubs?
I think the future is looking good for gastropubs, I feel you can eat as well in them, if not better, than many restaurants.