Paul Hegley Interview

Who is Paul Hegley, our Executive Head Chef? Find out about is culinary journey in our exclusive interview with him!

Let us introduce you to Paul Hegley, find out his journey to becoming one of the top chefs in the country, his inspiration and even more exciting, his future plans for a south Deven inspired new spring and summer menu at Gara!

Paul took a moment out of his hectic schedule to give us a taste of what's to come and to share a little bit of his cooking experience!

Paul, like a lot of us, was drawn to the Devon charm, so when Gara Rock was looking for a chef, he felt like the stars were going to align. After wowing visitors with his inventive cuisine in London for the past few years, he packed up and moved to the coast with his wife and 3-year-old daughter.


So, Paul have you always wanted to become a chef?

"No is the honest answer, I was big into sport when I was younger and played guitar in a band so I kind of fell into hospitality, found I had a passion for it and its been quite a journey so far."

Paul started his journey to becoming a chef by work in a great little local brasserie in Woburn Bedfordshire called Nicholls which gave him exposure to working in a good kitchen with good chefs and instilled passion.

"Hard work and a sense of urgency from a young age and those kind of gave me the buiding blocks I needed and spring board to develop myself."

Where did you train?

"I was lucky enough to work as part of the opening team in the Wernher fine dining restaurant at Luton Hoo where it I took a role as commis and quickly rose to senior CDP before venturing on to 2 Michelin star Vineyard at StockCross and found myself eventually working for Jean Christophe Novelli at both the French Horn and White Horse."

Moving to London

"I came out of hotels and restaurants and for 5 years worked in corporate catering in London, looking after the kitchen at ISS head quarters in Canary Wharf which involved client bids, staff development, mobilisations and much much more for some of the world biggest clients and facility management company."

"I thoroughly enjoyed my time, learnt a lot but found myself back into hotels joining the Sunborn Yacht Hotel as executive head chef. If it wasn't for Covid I would still be living and working in London in some shape or form but had many discussions with my wife Hayley in lockdown and decided to venture down to the South Coast for a different way of life with our 3 year old daughter in what was a very exciting but daunting project with Gara rock at the time."

What are your aspirations for Gara Rock’s food proposition?

"My aspirations for Gara rock would be to continue to develop the food offering and the team to really cement the restaurant as one of the prime dining locations in the South West. For guests of the hotel and non residents to have an exciting dining offer with different price points and feel."

"Many of our guests come to experience a special occasion so we have really elevated our dining experience in the restaurant and drilled into the detail, extended our experience to include a tasting menu and small a la carte , daily fish specials and to keep driving the standard of food, wine and service."

"We have created a more casual dining second outlet called ‘the kitchen at Gara’ where you can find some of our ‘Greatest hits’ from before plus other lighter bites. Not to forget our outside terrace where we are focusing on making great stonebake sour dough pizza for our alfresco offering."


"All of the above, it's all change for the F&B this year..we have gone all out to improve and commit to driving the hotel and restaurant into a new stage of its life and giving guests a truly memorable experience."