Terry is the nation's top chef

By Danielle NuttallHE has worked in the same hotel kitchen for five decades, preparing meals for the likes of the Queen, the Beatles and James Bond star Roger Moore.

By Danielle Nuttall

HE has worked in the same hotel kitchen for five decades, preparing meals for the likes of the Queen, the Beatles and James Bond star Roger Moore.

Now at the age of 62, culinary master Terry Barber has won the recognition he deserves by taking the title of one of the hospitality industry's greatest accolades.

The father-of-two, who is executive chef at the Maison Talbooth in Dedham, beat contenders from across the county to win the coveted title of RAC Hotel Chef of the Year.


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Mr Barber began his career at the prestigious hotel and restaurant at the age of 12, while still at school, when he helped out with the gardening.

As a teenager, he progressed to the role of chief egg stirrer as the cooks of the time made various sponges and gradually worked his way up the ranks.

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During the past 50 years, he has cooked for the Queen on two occasions, most recently last month when she paid an official visit to Colchester, the Duke of Edinburgh, Goons star Spike Milligan and former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Roger Moore's father, George, was also a weekly guest at the restaurant and brought his son in to dine on one occasion.

But none of those achievements matched the pride that Mr Barber felt on learning he had won the Hotel Chef of the Year award.

"It's a great end to a fantastic career," said Mr Barber, who lives with his wife, Ruth, in Capel St Mary.

"I was given a party for doing 50 years with the same company and also catering for the Queen, and this was the icing on the cake.

"I'm now catering and doing weddings for the children of people I did weddings for years ago, some times grandchildren."

Mr Barber said the restaurant industry had changed quite a bit since the days when he started. "There are so many different styles of food and customers are a lot more demanding than they used to be," he added.

The chef was nominated by Maison Talbooth proprietor, Paul Milsom, and did not know he had been entered for the competition. He will be presented with a certificate and prize in the New Year.

Gary Elliott, RAC head of hotels, said: "Terry really stood out from a very crowded field in the way he clearly lives and breathes the highest quality standards in his work."

danielle.nuttall@eadt.co.uk

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