MEET THE CHEF: ROBERT TAYLOR, THE COMPASSES INN
We catch up with one of Kent’s top chefs Robert Taylor from award-winning The Compasses Inn, Crundale for our June Meet the Chef feature.
Where did you train?
So officially I trained at Thanet Technical College, but in reality my training started much earlier at
the age of 11. I had loved cooking as a child and started working weekends with my step dad who
was a chef at the time, I continued to work with him every weekend until they opened their own
restaurant, where I worked throughout college, until I left for London at the age of 18.
Where have you worked before The Compasses?
Upon leaving Kent, I worked in London for around seven years working in 5 star hotels and their fine
dining restaurants. Having met my now wife in London, we decided to go back to Australia to spend
some time in the country she was from. This was a real turning point in my cooking as I learnt that
food can be good and still enjoyed in a relaxed comfortable environment.
Why Kent/The Compasses?
We decided while in Australia that we wanted to return to England to open our own business and
the dream at this point was to take all we had learnt about great ingredients and fine dining, but to
take this into a pub environment and do it in a really unpretentious manner. It was about five or six
years after returning to England that we were able to get our own place and in this time we had seen
a few people making what we had decided to do work for themselves and more gastro-style pubs
were popping up around and doing it very well. Kent for us seemed an easy choice I had grown up in
Kent and had grown up in the local pubs, so they have always been a part of who I am. And knowing
the area, I knew how well stocked it is with some great produce and food producers.
Tell us about the dishes/courses you have created for the menu?
The food we create on the menu utilises the best of what is in season at any one point, however this
doesn’t mean we use solely local ingredients (otherwise you wouldn’t be able to enjoy our chocolate
desserts!) We run two menus at the pub; a main menu which is always available and a set lunch
menu at £23.95 for 3 courses that changes daily; enabling us to use the best of what’s around and be
fluid in doing so. It is a great process because it keeps me thinking and if someone locally is
producing something great it deserves to be used and showcased.
What is your signature/favourite dish?
I wouldn’t say I have a signature dish but there is an ingredient that’s been on every menu since we
opened seven years ago and that’s ox cheek. It’s a cut I genuinely love. It’s rich and tasty in the
winter, I tend to use it as main course when you want a big sticky glazed piece
What is your guilty pleasure?
My guilty pleasure without a doubt is the Chinese take away we get normally on a Saturday after
service, we sit down with the staff, have a beer and all tuck into some Chinese before we do it all
again the next day.