Gary Booth and the Langar Hall Legacy: A Foodie Family with Over 100 Years of Excellence

At the heart of Nottinghamshire’s Langar Hall is a kitchen that stands out for its remarkable loyalty and longevity. This is no ordinary team; it’s a close-knit family — a rarity in the fast-paced restaurant industry. Executive head chef Gary Booth (pictured above) leads this extraordinary team, whose career at Langar Hall spans over two decades. Alongside Gary, Ross Jeffrey and Daniel Bellamy form the backbone of a kitchen with a combined experience of over 100 years. This enduring partnership speaks volumes about their commitment to food & drink excellence and Langar Hall’s unique environment.

Langar Hall

Gary Booth’s Journey

Gary Booth’s path to becoming the executive head chef at Langar Hall is as unique as inspiring. Born in Southport, Merseyside, Gary’s first dream was to become a professional footballer. From the age of nine, he was on the books of Liverpool FC. Legend Kenny Dalglish used to drive him to training. However, a leg injury at 15 ended his football aspirations. This unexpected turn led Gary to discover a new passion in the kitchen of a local brasserie, where he started as a pot washer and quickly transitioned to cooking.
Gary’s formal culinary education occurred at Southport College, followed by an invaluable stint at Leeming House in the Lake District. This country house hotel refined his skills and prepared him for the professional demands of high-end kitchens. In 2000, Gary joined Langar Hall as a chef de partie, drawn by its intimate setting and commitment to traditional cooking methods.

Gary and the Langar Hall kitchen team with Langar Hall’s founder, the late Imogen Skirving.

Building a Culinary Family

Langar Hall’s kitchen is not just a workplace; it’s a family. Gary has cultivated a team where longevity and loyalty are the norms. Ross Jeffrey, the head chef, started at Langar Hall aged 16 and has been with Gary for 21 years. Daniel Bellamy oversees main courses and has been part of the team for 15 years. The pastry chef, Nick Davies, has been there longer than Gary, specialising in breakfast, afternoon tea and bread for 25 years.

Langar Hall’s stunning grounds.

This incredible stability has fostered a work environment where innovation and consistency thrive. “You’re only as good as your staff, and my staff are excellent,” Gary says. The result is a kitchen where tradition meets innovation, and every team member’s contribution is valued. “It’s the family feel. We work together. We work for each other,” Gary emphasises, underscoring the unique bond that keeps his team intact.

The Langar Hall Experience

At Langar, cooking is both an art and a science. The team prides itself on doing things properly, from butchering whole carcasses to fermenting and juicing to minimise waste and enhance flavours. “We do things properly. We do butchery, we get whole carcasses, whole lambs, whole venison… and we do everything from scratch,” Gary says. This dedication extends to sourcing local and seasonal ingredients, often foraged from the surrounding countryside. “We get the chamomile. We’re getting pickled walnuts. We’ve got our walnuts in the garden to pick next week. They’re ready for pickling, the cobnuts. We’ve got elderflower season coming up, so it’s making elderflower and wild garlic vinegar,” he adds.

Head chef Ross Jeffery.

One of the recent innovations Gary and his team have embraced is the fermentation of foods, reflecting a broader trend towards healthy eating. Their kombucha is a hit with guests looking for non-alcoholic options. “We do kombuchas now for the bar… we’ve made them in the kitchen for ourselves for several years. Our staff thought, why don’t we put this on and utilise something from the garden? It costs nothing to forage,” says Gary.

Daniel Bellamy.

Work-Life Balance and the Future

The post-Covid transition to a four-day working week has been a game-changer for the team at Langar. It has allowed them to achieve a better work-life balance, leading to higher quality and consistency in their cooking. “Our consistency is much better because the work-life balance means you’re not constantly tired. And I find if you’re exhausted, you won’t get the best out of your staff,” Gary says. The additional time off provides opportunities for team-building activities, foraging trips and exploring new ideas together.

Gary’s vision for the future includes continuing to push culinary boundaries while maintaining the family atmosphere that has made Langar Hall a special place to work. He is also keen on nurturing the next generation of chefs, hoping to attract young talent who can grow and evolve within the Langar Hall family. “The door’s always open for someone, but someone from college would be perfect because it is still like a continuation of college. We’ll teach and nurture, and then you can grow with us and be part of the family,” Gary says.

A Family Affair

Gary’s commitment to family extends beyond his professional team. During the pandemic, his daughter and son stepped in to help with breakfast services and canapés, mirroring Gary’s own entry into the culinary world. He is proud of their contributions and the skills they have developed.

Gary at Langar Hall with his daughter Lauren and son Dan.

A Rare Gem

Gary Booth’s journey from aspiring footballer to esteemed executive head chef at Langar Hall reflects his resilience and passion. Together with Ross Jeffrey and Daniel Bellamy, Gary has built a kitchen that is as much about family and loyalty as it is about culinary excellence. Langar’s kitchen is a rare gem in the restaurant world – where tradition, innovation and a deep sense of loyalty and community create unforgettable dining experiences. “We still have down days, and you get frustrated with things, but it’s all about my team… we’re still learning. We’re still producing better things daily, and our consistency is improving,” Gary reflects, capturing the essence of what makes Langar Hall truly special.

Nick Davies
The author:

Matt lives in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. He is passionate about the independent food & drink sector and founded Great Food Club in 2010 after being inspired by local producers near his home town.