I remember the day well, I was 19 years of age and had been a chef since I was 16, I was working down the road at Langoed Hall as a pastry chef. I’d been a chef in a busy award winning Pub in the Lake District and the slow, infact very slow pace of the “Hall” was not suiting me, I discussed it with my father who suggested I try the pub down the road…….
It was then I met the owner of the Griffin Inn Llyswen, Richard Stockton he suggested popping in to have a chat, there are some people in life who seem to have natural charisma, they have a magnetism, a lure. After an hour with this chap I was convinced that I was gonna be the next big thing and that the Griffin was going to be my platform. I heard a rumour that he used to be a Jaguar salesman! There was just something about him he had a mischievous glint in his eye, was hugely knowledgeable and an affable genuine sort. The day I met him he was dressed in a waist coat, chequered shirt & crevatte he looked like a country gent but was pulling pints at the bar. I duly put my notice in at the “Hall” and moved up the road to Llyswen. I spent over five years working at the Griffin and “The Boss” as we all called Richard (and still do in fact), was hugely influential in those formative years. The Boss was undoubtedly a catalyst for all things food related he was a very able cook him self and wasn’t afraid to get stuck in beside us. He was a willing participant in all manner of meaty preparation, especially during game season. He would often stand outside the old game larder in the car park removing a pelt from a freshly killed wild deer or plucking & drawing pheasants, wood pigeon or partridge. During the Spring and summer months he would be scaling and gutting fish, bent over his old board with a knife, a sharpening stone by his side, the old knife was warn down to a thin hook shape but still sharp as a razor! He was a keen fishermen and new all the local spots on the Wye for Salmon & Trout. During game season he traded his rod for a gun and helped keep the game larder well stocked. He taught me a lot and is a true mentor and a good friend. He shaped my career and young mind and has left an indelible impression and work ethic, that has served me well and will undoubtedly stay with me for life. He saw in me back then something that I didn’t really know I had, I hold him solely responsible for lighting the furnace that is my passion for all things cooking and food related that burns within me still over 20 years on.
Richard Stockton (right) with his chum the Reverend Ian Charlesworth aka the Parson & Publican.