Two minutes with Ian Webber, The Farmers Arms

Published 11 December 2019

This week we chat to Ian Webber, executive chef at The Farmers Arms in Devon. He speaks about what’s next for the Woolsery Project, getting his start in a local pub and why rural areas are the most exciting places for hospitality.

When did you realise you wanted to work in hospitality? 

I took a summer job before doing my A levels and enjoyed the constant challenge of cooking, learning, creativity and self improvement so much that I decided not to go back to school, preferring to study cooking instead. 

It’s an incredibly rewarding career with no two days being the same. 

Where and how did you get your start? 

I started working for a very tough ex-para chef in a local pub, who was also a part-time college lecturer. He taught me well, gave good advice. When he felt it was time he arranged a job for me at the best hotel and restaurant in a 50-mile radius from my home , where I stayed for three years giving me a good foundation of skills and set me up well for my career ahead. 

Sum up your current work life in one sentence. 

Exciting, challenging and perfect for anyone who cares about where their food comes from and wants to make a difference in how we grow/produce our food and train staff to give a sustainable future to the hospitality and farming industries. 

Who has been really influential on your career and why? 

Raymond Blanc and the Roux family are incredibly influential in every chef that works in the UK today, the drip-down effect that their teachings have had on our industry can’t and shouldn’t be underestimated. 

What’s next for you? 

Continually helping to build the infrastructure of the Woolsery Project in North Devon, including the opening of our manor house and farm in 2022. 

What’s your one piece of advice to someone starting out? 

Surround yourself with passionate, driven individuals, work hard, apply yourself fully and you will reap the benefits. 

Where did you last have a great meal? 

The Almond Thief, a great little bakery in Dartmouth that produces amazing simple lunches using their own baked goods.  

Are there any openings you are looking forward to? 

The opening of our very own manor house which is an 18-bedroom hotel and restaurant, due for completion in spring 2022. 

Where is the most exciting city for hospitality (aside from London)? 

For me some of the most exciting hospitality is happening in more rural areas, like Devon, Cornwall, Cumbria and Yorkshire.  

City, it would have to be San Sebastian in Spain or Stockholm in Sweden. 

Who would you identify as a rising star? 

Max Borchardt- one of our sous chefs, a culinary superstar in the making. 

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