Michael Belben, Paul Whittome, Rupert Cleveley, Nigel Hawarth (new entry)
Why they are on the list:
Excelling as a gastropub chef is one thing, running a group of gastropubs is quite another, but an increasing number are now chancing their arm. Pub operators are also cottoning on to the fact that forging partnerships with entrepreneurial chefs can breathe life into many tired pub operations. Gastro entrepreneurs represent a real pocket of excellence, from which the entire industry can learn.
What the past year has held:
High quality pub food continues to make huge strides and this accelerating expansion of the pub food sector shows no signs of slowing down. Pub chefs are now teaming up with brewers and pubcos to develop entrepreneurial partnerships. Award winning Phil Farmer, of the Cook & Barker, Newton-on-the-Moor, Northumberland, has even bought his own farm and country estate to provide organically-reared meat, vegetables and dairy produce for his own and other local pubs.
Keeping a traditional pub atmosphere within a gastro food operation is essential if the sector is to maintain a defined line, setting it apart from restaurants. Retaining sensible pricing levels is also a key requirement. Some pubs have been criticised for setting their charges way above what pub customers have come to expect.