Top Devon chef Simon Hulstone

Simon Hulstone is chef-proprietor at The Elephant in Torquay, one of Devon’s top restaurants with three AA rosettes and a Michelin star for its fantastic fine-dining dishes which use local, seasonal produce. Simon’s success at The Elephant has been central to Devon’s growing reputation as a top foodie destination, and he also manages to find the time to compete in – and win – international culinary competitions.
He told Visit Devon about his restaurant’s very own farm, and where he likes to eat out – when he gets the time.

Find top restaurants around DevonNorth Devon and ExmoorDartmoorExeter and surroundsTorquay, Paignton and BrixhamSouth DevonPlymouth
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Top Devon chef Simon Hulstone - © White Plate p

Why do you think The Elephant has won so many accolades?
We make sure we source the best ingredients, employ the best people and make sure that what we put on the plate is always the best it can be. We have some great suppliers from whom we’ve sourced top quality ingredients over the past ten years, and even have our own dedicated farm – this means that we know which produce is in season and tailor our menu accordingly.
I’m really lucky to have a very strong team at The Elephant and mentoring and training young chefs is one of the more rewarding elements of my job. Seeing them develop and demonstrate their skills in competitions makes me very proud.

Do you think people are surprised to find cooking of such a high standard outside of the cities?
Yes – Torquay has a reputation as a cheerful family holiday resort! We never set out to become a destination restaurant, we just wanted to cook the best of what’s available. We’re lucky to have so much to choose from!

The Elephant Torquay Simon Hulstone

Is the high-quality of Devon produce important to you at The Elephant, and to the Devon food scene as a whole?
Of course – I’ve always considered Devon to be the larder for the UK! Our landscape and generally milder climate make Devon ideal for growing produce and rearing free range livestock. Then of course we have an abundance of delicious seafood along our shores: Brixham crab and Devon ruby red beef have a fantastic reputation and are loved by chefs far beyond Devon.

How do you think Devon is developing as a foodie destination?
Devon has always been known for superb produce and it’s great to have so many places where visitors and locals can enjoy it. Devon recently had five pubs listed in the national pub awards, and restaurants like Gidleigh Park, The Seahorse and The Elephant have fantastic reputations nationally.

Are you proud to have played such an important part in developing Devon’s food scene?
Despite not being born here, I would say that it was in Devon that I ‘grew-up’.  I first moved here at the age of 11, when my Dad worked at The Imperial, then moved away at 16 and returned at 30 to start working at The Elephant. My move to The Elephant was fate: the restaurant was in transition and I was looking for my next challenge. That was almost ten years ago and we’ve gone from strength to strength since. Devon has certainly been good to me so I’m very proud to play my part.

Where do you like to eat out in Devon?
The Cornish Arms in Tavistock – I love the seabass with crab risotto. The Jack in the Green in Exeter – I recently had a delicious Thai flavoured chicken soup there, which was delicious. And Ode in Shaldon – they make lovely local squid dishes which I always enjoy.

Where’s your favourite spot in Devon?
We love going to Broadsands when the weather is good. It’s a beautiful place and the sea is shallow enough to be safe for my three daughters.

Find out more
More about The Elephant in Torquay and other foodie places nearby including The Orange Tree Restaurant and Cockington Chocolate Company
Find top restaurants around Devon in: North Devon and ExmoorDartmoorExeter and surroundsTorquay, Paignton and BrixhamSouth DevonPlymouth
Read about Plymouth’s celebrity chef restaurants
Discover where Mitch Tonks eats out in Devon