The Jack in the Green at Rockbeare, near Exeter, celebrated 25 years as an independent business last summer and now its Head Chef, Matthew Mason, is marking the same achievement.
Matt Mason joined the Jack in the Green back in 1994. Initially he began his career at The Jack as second chef, but within a year he was promoted to Head Chef and the pub went on to win two AA rosettes. The Jack was one of the first establishments in Devon to achieve this accolade and it is still one that they hold today.
After winning the South West Chef of the Year competition in 2007, Matthew has since mentored 4 more winners from his kitchen (as well as 3 finalists) in addition to the International Pastry Chef of the Year. At various points, the pub has also held a Michelin Bib Gourmand, a listing in the Good Food Guide as well as inclusion in the UK’s Top 100 Restaurants and Top 50 Gastropubs.
February 2016 saw the launch of their charity-supporting ‘The Jack Cook Book’ which has so far raised £3,000 for FORCE Cancer in Exeter and features a number of classic recipes. Matthew has also worked extremely closely with West Hill Primary School for the last 8 years teaching the children about food miles, freshness and seasonality.
Paul Parnell, proprietor of The Jack in the Green, had this to say about Matt: “When Judy and I took over the Jack – then a run down, near bankrupt roadside pub – we put pretty good food in, but more importantly great hospitality from a great team. A year later, Matthew knocked on the door looking for a job – 25 years later he is still here producing outstanding, great value food – unbelievable! We have always sung off the same hymn sheet and shared the same passion for food, drink and hospitality. I’m in no doubt that without his culinary skills, dedication and commitment the Jack would not be where it is today.”
Despite 25 years of impressive accolades, Matt remains humble about his success: “When I started as a young boy on pot wash I never thought I’d end up cooking for a living. That first job developed into the beginnings of my apprenticeship at Gidleigh Park under Shaun Hill. Fast forward over 30 years and I’ve been privileged to be part of something very special here at the Jack – after such a long time at the stoves we’re both now considered Devon institutions….. I’m trying not to creak!”
“During my 25 years as Head Chef I’ve seen so many different trends come and go but we’ve always worked hard to put our customers first. Awards have come in from Michelin, the AA, The Good Food Guide, Taste of the West and many others – our story keeps evolving. Still keen to progress further, I enjoy my role as a mentor to the younger chefs in the kitchen and as one of the judges for South West Chef of the Year – my work ethic has always been quality over quantity which helps to keep my mind sharp. Even at the ripe old age of 47 nothing can beat the adrenaline high of a busy service – long may that, and the Jack, continue!”
You can read our latest review of The Jack here.