Gavin Beedham is following in his aunt’s footsteps.

“She owned a restaurant and I used to work there part-time,” he says. “I really enjoyed it and went on to make cooking my career.”

More than two decades later, and Gavin is the owner and head chef at Ilkley’s stylish Farsyde Restaurant.

“I love it – cooking is my hobby too,” he says. “I still enjoy it. The hours are long, but the fun and buzz never go away. On a really busy night I still get a real adrenaline rush, and it is great being my own boss, making my own decisions.”

Born in Coventry, Gavin trained in the city before heading out to find his feet in restaurant kitchens across the country. He ended up in Yorkshire, where the keen young chef spent six years at the Devonshire Arms in Bolton Abbey, taking on the role of head chef aged just 21.

“It was hard work and a lot of the chefs I worked with were older than me, so it was challenging,” he says.

As well as honing his skills as a chef, Gavin made the decision to learn the business side of running a restaurant. “I’d worked with really talented chefs in the past whose teaching has been invaluable. But I always felt I needed to know more about the other aspects of running a restaurant, particularly as I had an ambition to run my own business.”

He left the Devonshire Arms on a high. “I built it up to be a great success,” he recalls, “but wanted to fulfil my ambition.”

That drive and determination led him to open Farsyde in The Grove, Ilkley in 1995. The venture was a success and, after eight years, Gavin relocated to larger premises in New Brook Street.

Here, he heads a five-strong team cooking, “what most people describe as ‘modern English,’” says Gavin, “Our main influence is traditional English food.”

The atmospheric interior, lined with modern, yet intimate dining booths, has proved popular with locals and those from further afield, enjoying largely locally-sourced food. “We use local suppliers as far as possible,” says Gavin. “Over the past two years we have started to use a lot more locally-grown produce, particularly vegetables.” Evening starters include imaginatively-thought out dishes such as duck and spring onion tart served on a watercress and apple salad with plum dressing and smoked haddock; prawn and leek risotto garnished with a poached egg.

Mains feature breast of chicken filled with pancetta, sunblushed tomatoes and pak choi served on a potato rosti with vine cherry tomato sauce, and roast Mediterranean vegetable samosa served on an olive and asparagus salad with tomato and basil dressing. A range of appetising desserts include warm baked apple crisp crumble with rum and raisin ice cream and cider caramel sauce. Menus for earlybird and lunch offer lighter fare such as fish cakes, salads and wraps.

“We change the menu every two months,” says Gavin, who has also held cookery lessons at the restaurant.

He lives in Burley-in-Wharfedale with his wife Zoe and seven-month-old son Oscar. Zoe works as restaurant manger at Farsyde, having met Gavin after applying for a job at the restaurant. “She came to work for me when we first opened,” says Gavin, “She used to work at Bettys.”

To relax, and when he finds the time, Gavin plays golf and the family enjoy eating out, putting themselves on the other side of the fence. “Running a restaurant is hard work, but rewarding,” says Gavin. “I could never be a pen-pusher.”

  • Farsyde Restaurant, 1-3 New Brook Street, Ilkley. Tel: (01274) 602030