Taunton's breakfast king: Chef Gerry's 50-year culinary journey

A Taunton chef is celebrating a remarkable milestone: an impressive 50-year career in the culinary world, with most of his journey spent at a local hotel.

For five decades, Gerry Barge has dedicated half of his professional life to rising at 3am to prepare breakfast at The Castle Hotel.

His unwavering commitment to this important meal has earned him a prestigious industry award.

Gerry Barge has served breakfast at Taunton's Castle Hotel, where he has served breakfast since 1998 and first stepped into the kitchen half a century ago.

Reflecting on his time there, he said: "I completed my apprenticeship here from '71 to '74. After a brief two-year hiatus, I returned in '76, and I've been here ever since."

Speaking on the early starts, he said: "You just get used to it. You get to the stage where you don’t really take much notice anymore, you’re up, you’re awake. It’s a routine.

"The guests that I get in that repeatedly come back and they always say ‘Hello Gerry, how are you. I’ll be back again in, whenever.’ That’s nice, I like that sort of thing.”

Gerry Barge with Castle Hotel owner Kit Chapman at the presentation of his award

The Castle Hotel boasts a storied culinary history with famous chefs including Gary Rhodes and Phil Vickery leaving their mark.

However, Gerry's dedication has not gone unnoticed and has earned him a special award from the Institute of Hospitality's 'Hearts in Hospitality' program, which honours the often overlooked heroes of the hospitality industry.

Max Lawrence, Director of Finance at Hospitality Assured, commends Gerry's incredible journey, saying: "Gerry's story is truly remarkable. When presented to the judging panel, he was undoubtedly a standout candidate for this award."

Andrew Swann, the executive chef at the Castle Hotel, fondly recalls: "I started here at 17, and one of the first people I met was Gerry.

"He’s been here through all the cycles of people and he’s just a wealth of knowledge. He was a wealth of knowledge back then and he’s still the same guy he is now.”

Regardless of how you prefer your morning eggs, one thing is certain: at The Castle Hotel, Gerry reigns as the undisputed breakfast king.