Interview with brand new Sky Dining chef, Gary Pearce

We are delighted to announce a brand new chef for its pop-up restaurant at the iconic 170 metre high viewing tower for Sky Dining. Gary Pearce has succeeded in a career working in some of the finest restaurants across the globe. Sky Dining will see him showcase quality produce from around Hampshire. Expect an exquisite seven course meal from canapés to dessert with sensational flavours, a stunning harbour view and an optional flight of wines to match!

EST: Welcome to the Tower Gary! We are thrilled to have you as part of the team – so what are you most looking forward to about the Sky Dining chef experience?

GP: I am truly honoured and grateful to be a part of the Sky Dining event! Especially as it’s in Portsmouth – my hometown! I feel extremely proud to be “from the area” cooking “for the area”!


EST: Everyone is very excited to welcome a new chef to the Tower! Tell us a bit more about yourself and how you got to be where you are now.

GP: I was born and raised in Leigh Park, Havant. I was always interested in cooking. It’s all thanks to my grandfather -I remember watching him cook as a kid. But it wasn’t plain sailing for me – my teenage years were a bit of a “detour” – I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be. And then one day I woke up and decided I need to change and do something with my life. I decided to do what I was interested in and enjoyed the most – cooking! I enrolled in South Down’s College and that’s when it all started!

When I was 17 years old I started work at 36 On The Quay in Emsworth – a pivotal chapter in my life and first introduction to fine dining and high cuisine. That’s when I started dreaming of having my own restaurant one day – not any restaurant but 36 On The Quay – the location, the place, the people – I fell in love with it immediately! It’s incredible to think I’ve come full circle and am back there now as Head Chef!

Another life changing moment was when I started working at 2 Michelin Star Le Champignon Sauvage in Cheltenham – not only has it made me as a Chef but that’s where I met my amazing wife, mother and business partner, Martyna Myśliwska-Pearce.

Then I travelled Europe with experiences at Noma (2 Michelin stars, Denmark), Oud Sluis (3 Michelin stars, Netherlands), Aqua (3 Michelin stars, Germany) Oaxon Krog in Sweden, to name a few.

After spending a few years at In De Wulf in Belgium (1 Michelin star), I came back where I started at 36 On The Quay. The timing was just right as Ramon and Karen Farthing were looking for a passionate couple to take over from them. Fast forward 5 years of dedication and hard work and my wife and I are now running 36 On The Quay.

EST: You will be cooking up a storm on Friday 12th & Saturday 13th October – so what can we expect from your very first menu for us?

GP: The autumn inspired menu is an amazing opportunity to showcase the wonderful produce that Hampshire has to offer, combining different flavours, textures and cooking methods. Guests will be indulged in a unique fine dining experience, showcasing the finest seasonal produce from Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.


EST: Guests will indulge in a unique fine dining experience, showcasing the finest seasonal produce from Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Which local Hampshire and IOW suppliers will feature in your menu?

GP: Our showcase of suppliers will cover all different parts of Hampshire. To list just a few of our local suppliers; Isle of Wight Tomatoes, Black Water Pork, Chalk Stream Trout, Hampshire Watercress and berries & salad hand-picked from woodlands in Hampshire.


EST: Your autumn dining experience with us promises seven courses inspired by seasonal flavours from across the region. Which of the courses are you most looking forward to sharing with our diners?

GP: All of them! Because for me – a tasting menu is a journey though the flavours. Each of the seven courses has its place and reason. From the canapés to the dessert, from the first bite to last, each flavour and each course is equally important for me. Each course complements and balances another and to have the complete experience is to taste all seven courses, in the designed order.


EST: Over the years, we are sure you have tried a great many fabulous flavours combinations! If you had to choose your final meal, what would it be?

GP: I don’t like the concept of a “final meal”. I think we should cherish every meal. Because to have food on your plate is a luxury, and to be able to share it with your close ones is another luxury for me. And we need to remember not everyone is as lucky!
But if I could eat something again it would be my grandad’s bread and butter pudding. It was so full of flavours but so simple at the same time. Sadly my grandad had passed away but wherever I can I try and use his recipes and carry on his legacy! But I’m no match to his puddings!


EST: We are certain that all of our guests are going to LOVE this unique fine dining experience and will want to know where they can next taste your food! What might we catch you doing for the rest of this year?

GP: You can always find me cooking at my restaurant 36 On The Quay in Emsworth (we are open lunch and dinner Tuesday to Saturday, closed Sundays and Mondays).
We have plenty to offer : dinners, lunches, tasting menus, a la carte options, staying with us, wine tasting events, special celebrations, business meetings and so on. We are planning a range of special events in the near future such as vegetarian/vegan nights, sustainability events, wine dinners and taster nights.

To book on our October Sky Dining event, go to the event page here.
To keep up to date with Gary’s appearances, events and offers, visit 36 On The Quay’s social media channels or website