The Barn Coffee Shop & Restaurant at South Downs Nurseries has a new ‘dream team’ in the kitchen, with the appointment of head chef Jon O’Dowd and recently-promoted sous chef Lee Copleston. The pair will be responsible for thousands of meals and snacks a week at the garden centre.
Jon, 44, lives in Albourne and is a chef with over 20 years’ experience in hospitality. He trained at The Apprentice, Tower Bridge, and at Luca in Surbiton. After working at The Marlborough Tavern Gastropub in Bath, Jon mentored students at LVS special needs school in Sayers Common where his pioneering work featured in the Mail on Sunday.
He has a vast and impressive portfolio telling the story of his experience in the restaurant industry, working on all areas from kitchen setup, liaising with architects and planning the layout, to the health & safety aspect or installing and running a kitchen, training staff and writing new menus. He recalls his first ‘big job’ setting up a commercial kitchen at the Finborough Arms, Kensington & Chelsea, London. This well-known Victorian pub boasts the renowned Finborough Theatre above it, with boards well-trodden by countless famous actors over the years, many frequenting the pub below.
Now in his new position as Head Chef at South Downs Nurseries he looks forward to settling into his new role, getting to know and mentoring his new team, extending the garden centre menu and creating more specials alongside new Sous Chef Lee Copleston, who has worked at South Downs for the last 4 years and has recently gained a big promotion to sous chef.