Chef of the Year announced at Norfolk Food & Drink Awards

Left to right: David Lamyman, Stuart Tattersall (sponsor - The Gunton Arms), Gareth Rayner, Sophie Daniels <i>(Image: Matthew Potter Photographer and Videographer)</i>
Left to right: David Lamyman, Stuart Tattersall (sponsor - The Gunton Arms), Gareth Rayner, Sophie Daniels (Image: Matthew Potter Photographer and Videographer)

Gareth Rayner, chef at the The Gin Trap Inn in Ringstead, has been awarded the title of Chef of the Year, an award sponsored by The Gunton Arms, at the Norfolk Food & Drink Awards 2023.

Executive chef Gareth Rayner joined The Gin Trap Inn in 2022 and leads a team of 10 to create carefully considered dishes.

Gareth describes his style as modern British, and says he is heavily inspired by young Michelin star chefs such as Adam Handling, Tommy Banks and Tom Brown.

“Gareth’s arrival at the Gin Trap must have been a culinary gift to the good folk of Hunstanton and surrounding area,” said the judges, adding that “without a doubt, Gareth portrayed all the traits a chef would need to excel”.

With conviction and passion, he strives to bring ingredients together that sing in tune with the seasons and represent the rich larder of produce available that fuel his creative mind.

Gareth Rayner said: “Winning this award means a great deal to us as a business. We’ve been working tirelessly to elevate the standard of our food and dining experience.

“We are on an exciting journey, we’re focussed and dedicated to aiming higher all the time, this is huge step in the right direction.”

Finalist: Liam Nichols – STORE @ Stoke Mill

Liam Nichols from STORE @ Stoke Mill's career has seen him do a full circle and return to the village where it all began, Stoke Holy Cross.

He spent the first four years of his career at The Wildebeest Arms, before moving on to hone his skills at Midsummer House in Cambridge, Sat Bains in Nottingham, The Press Club in Melbourne, Momofuku KO in New York and Kerridge’s Bar and Grill in London.

The judges said Liam delivers “intelligent, fun and fiercely locally-inspired dishes to his eagerly expectant diners”.

They said diners can expect a lengthy wait for a table, but the reward will be food to “surprise, challenge and demand your pallet sits up and takes note”.

Finalist: Peter Clarke – Imperial Hotel, Great Yarmouth

Peter has been employed at the Imperial Hotel in Great Yarmouth for 23 years and was appointed executive chef in 2022.

A Yarmouth boy made good, his love of cooking stems from his childhood, cooking with his Nanny. Peter believes in investing in people and in passing on his skills.

The judges said Peter is a credit to this Great Yarmouth established destination. “He has not failed his mentors in delivering consistent, balanced menus and encourages his kitchen team to take ownership of the challenging day-to-day running that also has the additional challenge of large functions and events,” they said.

“There’s a genuine passion within the team that Peter inspires.”

To find out more about all the winners, please click here.

For more information on the Norfolk Food & Drink Awards, please visit