In recent years, British cuisine has bounced back from decades of being put down as one of the worst cuisines in the world to one that puts an emphasis on fresh local ingredients, superlative technique, innovation, and extraordinary flavor, thanks to a revolution among its culinary professionals.
Icons like Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver are often credited with this gastronomic turnaround, but there is one particular star in that firmament who deserves a great deal of the credit: chef Mark Sargeant.
Sargeant was born in August 1973 in Kent, England. He was educated first at Oakwood Park Grammar School in Maidstone, then later at West Kent College. But, from a very early age, preparing and serving food has always been something he was keen on, and he certainly considered a career in the culinary industry. So much so, he had his first work experience at the age of fifteen in the kitchens of Maidstone’s Lakefield Priory Hotel.
After graduating from West Kent in 1991, Sargeant worked for a number of restaurants. But his big break came when he joined the kitchen crew of Irish restaurateur Oliver Peyton’s restaurant Coast in 1996: that was the year when he was hailed as the UK’s Young Chef of the Year.
Such an accomplishment would grab the attention of any number of illustrious chefs, but the young chef found himself working for one of the best-known – and most notorious one of all: Gordon Ramsay.
Ramsay hired Sargeant in 1997 to work with him at his restaurant Aubergine in Chelsea. Sargeant worked his way up the ladder, serving as sous-chef at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay for three years, and gaining three Michelin Star awards in the process. By 2002, now serving as head chef for Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s, Sargeant was named Chef of the Year for his sterling preparations and outstanding flavor profile. He went on to open several of Ramsay’s pubs and co-author several of his books.
But, as with all things, after thirteen years of service, Sargeant left Ramsay’s in November 2009.
In 2011, Sargeant tried his hand at the restaurant business when he opened Rocksalt Restaurant and The Smokehouse Fish and Chips. Both restaurants have been successful, and Rocksalt has since won a number of awards for the excellence of its cuisine and overall service.
While he is still deemed as one of the best chefs in the United Kingdom, Sargeant is also known as a cookbook author in his own right following the release of My Kind of Cooking in 2011 where he shared recipes of his favorite dishes. He also tried his hand at television hosting together with Nadia Sawalha on the ITV channel’s Saturday Cookery.
He has come a long way from his humble beginnings in Kent, but no one will be surprised to know that Mark Sargeant is still cooking up delectable surprises to excite the dining public.