Meet the golf club celebrity chef: Tony Tobin

Tania Longmire
By Tania Longmire October 16, 2019 07:37

Reigate Heath Golf Club in Surrey recently appointed Tony to oversee its food and beverage operation, and to open a restaurant. Here, he talks about his career and this new role.

Tony Tobin

How did you become a celebrity chef and how have you ended up at Reigate Heath?

I first got invited onto ITV’s This Morning, presented by Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan, to cook some strawberry dishes for Wimbledon week. I was a bit of a cheeky chappy and they seemed to like me. They asked me back a few times and then I went on to do a show called Hot Chefs! Then I started doing Ready Steady Cook, which I did for 14 years and the rest, as they say, is history [Tony also owned ‘The Dining Room’ in Reigate, for 23 years, which won several awards].

I was at a dinner party and happened to meet a member of Reigate Heath who, at the time, were investigating opportunities to diversify and make the most of their beautiful location and clubhouse. We got on very well and as things progressed, the idea of the restaurant above the club was born.

What attracted you to Reigate Heath and was there anything specifically about a golf club that enticed you to work for one?

Have you been to Reigate Heath? The clubhouse and views speak for themselves. I saw it as an opportunity to produce great food in a stunning setting. I don’t work for the club, I work with the club – we both have the same goal – happy members and visitors. The idea is that we both benefit from the friendship; golf clubs all over the country are suffering as younger ones take to putting on lycra and cycling around the country roads. We are hoping to entice and remind these people that golf is still around and a great way to re-energise, especially with the views at Reigate Heath.

As well as providing a service to members, you’re planning to open a new restaurant for non-members. Can you tell us a bit about that?

Ranmore at Reigate Heath opened to the members at the end of June and to non-members just recently. Ranmore at Reigate Heath offers a fine dining experience with a great view. I open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturday evenings, offering an à la carte menu which changes monthly.

There are seven windows in the restaurant so you would struggle not to get an amazing view looking out at Leith Hill, Box Hill and Ranmore Common on the horizon.

We also have a beautiful windmill which has been converted into a church – ideal for blessings.

 

Do you play golf?

I have not played golf for many years but mark my words, when things settle down for me at the club, I will be dusting off my clubs and getting out there with the members.

Many clubs have been looking at the potential of revenue streams in addition to golf in recent years. What advice do you have for any golf club that wants to significantly improve the quality of their restaurant(s)?

Listen to the members, listen to the team and work with them!

In my short experience at this club, it has a lovely family feel, so I treat it like their home, with respect and courtesy. The members very quickly tell you what sort of things they like and dislike, which is really helpful. A few tweaks here and there and I think we are almost there and I’m hoping for a long family relationship.

Do you think Reigate Heath’s restaurant(s) have the potential to be successfully marketed as restaurants in their own rights – with people visiting for the quality of the restaurant rather than of the golf course or the views of the golf course? 

Myself and my team work very hard and are very serious about the standard of the food we prepare and serve both in the clubhouse and in Ranmore.

I’d like to think that, as well as golfers, we will encourage others to visit the restaurant and who knows? They may even join our lovely club and become golfers themselves.

 

Tania Longmire
By Tania Longmire October 16, 2019 07:37
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1 Comment

  1. Peter October 14, 11:45

    Nice ! Great to read and learn about Tony ! Thanks Tania ! Thanks Alistair ! Usually when I “get to a club”, I tell my chef’s, i’m going to make them a “star !” As dining and F&B has become increasingly more important to clubs and their value proposition, Chefs’ can no longer stay “hidden” and obscure in the back of the house ! They need to create a culture of leadership in their kitchens, so they can remove themselves ( accordingly ) from the ranks, the line and the office ! We need them to engage, participate and communicate with members, guests and others. Doing so raises awareness, markets F&B and increases visitations and usage ! People are more motivated to return to the club and partake of F&B services and offerings when they know the chef, understand his/her passions and have heard their story !

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