Thursday, May 30th, 2024
Head Chef Gareth Cox in the kitchen, chopping some fruit

Meet The Award-Winning Chef Who’s Turning Heads At The Pavilion In Wildernesse House

On a gloriously sunny midweek morning we trundled up the path of the prominent Wildernesse Avenue in Seal, Sevenoaks. As we turned the corner, we caught sight of the magnificent Wilderness House, seated upon a hill overlooking sprawling greenery and woodland. It’s a sight that never fails to impress.

As we approached the Grade II-listed building, we couldn’t help but marvel and reflect upon the estate’s rich history, dating back as far as the 1300s and frequented by Dukes, Lords and Marquis’ of old.

Over the centuries, the house has held many different duties – what was once a farm became a grand home… then a country club… then a hospital in World War Two… then a school for blind children, run by the Royal London Society for Blind People… to eventually being developed into what stands before us today: a luxury retirement community.

Here is something every Sevenoaks resident should know… the on-site restaurant, The Pavilion, is open to everyone, not just the folk living on Wildernesse Estate.


The Pavilion at Wildernesse House


The Pavilion at Wildernesse House

The Pavilion restaurant is very much becoming the social heart of the estate and this is due, in no small measure, to the addition of award-winning Head Chef, Gareth Cox, who joined the team just last year.

Architecturally brilliant in its own right, with a light and airy dining space, an elegant timber vaulted ceiling and the historic mansion to provide a stunning backdrop. Coffees in hand, we settled down for a tête-à-tête with the king of the kitchen himself.


Head Chef, Gareth Cox


What led you to a career in cheffery?

You mean after I realised I wasn’t going to be the next Jon Bon Jovi?!

I’ve always had quite artistic tendencies, whether that was musically (I actually was a guitar-player in a band!) or in home economics at school. I even got an A in my Art GSCE. Whenever I prepared a meal at home, I always paid great attention to detail, my mum told me then that I could be a chef. I saw Gary Rhodes on TV and really looked up to him as he was a local lad. I even went to Thanet College just because he did! At 17, I got a job at a Hilton in London and the rest is history.

What were you doing before this?

I was working at The George Vaults in Rochester, helping them to revamp their menus and business strategy. By the time I left, I’d increased their profit by nearly 300%!

Before then, I’d worked for Gordon Ramsay Restaurants, The Savoy, Claridge’s, Hilton, Marriott and Thackeray’s. Tracey, the General Manager here, is an old colleague of mine and reached out to me. I was so impressed and saw Elysian as a company that was really moving forward and would give me the perfect opportunity to take the reins and showcase my personality.

Now, let’s talk about the food at The Pavilion…

The menu is designed to be good, British food – hearty and wholesome. Think big portions and great ingredients. I spent a lot of time getting to know the homeowners here at Wildernesse House and finessing a menu that is suited to them – I don’t cook for my ego; I cook for them.

I always want them to feel like they’re a part of the process. For example, yesterday a resident came up to me when I was sitting outside deep in thought. I told her I was thinking about what bread I should make the following morning. Without missing a beat, she replied “date and walnut.” And that’s exactly what I was putting into the oven when you arrived!

We’ve introduced lots of new things, like ‘Fish & Chips Friday’, Sunday Lunches and will be hosting a series of themed BBQs across the summer, such as Greek meze and Italian al fresco seafood.

Do you miss fine dining?

No, working 100+ hours a week was driving me into the ground. The pressure was crushing, I suffered from high blood pressure and headaches and my wife was really worried about me. There’s the same desire here as any London fine-dining restaurant and I’ve rediscovered the joy in creating. I have so much support, freedom and feel truly appreciated – it’s not at every job where the CEO asks after your family!

Finally, who inspires you?

I know sometimes he may come across as rude on TV, but I admire and respect Gordon Ramsay’s ‘keep the mistakes in the kitchen’ approach and his ‘customer-first’ philosophy. I feel like he’s very authentic and true to himself. I also love Tom Kerridge’s ‘out of the box’ food style too.

Follow Gareth on Instagram: @chefgarethcox

“My passion for food is not based on what I put on the plate; it’s about making people happy.”

The Menu at The Pavilion

Garlic and Thyme Roasted Fillet of Beef served with buttered asparagus, braised onions, carrot puree, cheddar and truffle croquette and bone marrow gravy….

Crottingham Farm Chicken Caesar Burger…

Tandoori King Prawns…

These are just a few of the mouth-watering delights to be found on the all-day dining menu. Gareth tweaks and reviews the menu weekly as well as putting on daily specials. To get the freshest, seasonal produce, Gareth supports local businesses wherever he can, like fish from Chapman’s in Sevenoaks or wine from Chapel Down in Tenterton.

You’ll find here a fully stocked bar and cocktail menu.


Gareth let us in on a few secrets around his future plans and believe us when we tell you that you’re in for a treat!

Book your table

Walk-ins are accepted but it’s always best to book ahead.
Book here, call the restaurant on 01732 445690 or email to make a reservation.

Opening times

Monday – Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday – Saturday: 12pm – 8pm
Sunday: Closed (except for Sunday lunches on selected dates)


Saturday Barbecues at Wildernesse House

June 17th:  Greek BBQ
July 8th:  Italian BBQ
August 19th:  Indian BBQ
September 16th:  Oktoberfest BBQ

£25 per person
Booking essential at: 01732 445690

More blogs on Wildernesse House

Getting To Know The Wildernesse House Dream Team

Historic Sevenoaks Mansion Restored To Its Former Glory By PegasusLife

Trees at Wildernesse House Have Links To Famous Historic Figures

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