A Restored Historic North Norfolk Farm House

Meet the team

Gary Hunter is co-founding Director at Hunters Academy of Food.

His culinary and education career is unprecedented and not only is he a culinary authority in his own right, he is a world renowned award-winning tutor and now our dynamic leader at the Academy of Food.

Born in North Norfolk, Gary actually grew up in Hethersett, a local village south of Norwich, and as a child he became inspired by food cooked by his mother and grandmother, nonetheless he had big dreams of becoming a footballer. Life had other plans for him though, as fate would have it, he enrolled at City College Norwich on a professional chef course, later specialising with an advanced course in patisserie and confectionery. Almost immediately, his love for the sweeter side of the hospitality industry was born.

For the next few years, Gary honed his skills in high end hotels and restaurants, before being offered the chance to teach at the legendary Westminster College (now called Westminster Kingsway) in central London. It is the UK’s leading and oldest professional culinary and hospitality school that was launched by the legendary chefs Auguste Escoffier and Iwan Kriens. Gary has produced thousands of talented and leading chefs for the hospitality industry, with alumni such as Jamie Oliver, two-Michelin starred Andrew Wong, National Chef of the Year 2022 Ben Murphy, Great British Menu’s Selin Kiazim and Ruth Hansom to name but a few.

Travelling abroad frequently to work with leading chefs and industry associations in countries such as Korea, USA, Brazil, France, Italy, Japan, Holland and Belgium, Gary also works to a large extent throughout the UK providing specialist culinary demonstrations and training. He has a strong practical background with international and Michelin restaurant experience and has represented the UK in culinary competitions. In 2008 Gary was part of the team that led a junior chef team to Erfurt, Germany to represent Great Britain for the World Culinary Olympics, winning a total of twelve silver medals and he also managed the first ever UK Pastry Team to compete in the World Pastry Team Championships at Arizona, USA in July 2010.

Gary also works as an international judge for chocolate and patisserie; indeed he is currently recognised as one of the leading UK chocolatiers. His long standing role as one of the first UK Ambassadors for Barry Callebaut UK enables him to provide specialist seminars, demonstrations, classes and product development for chefs, pastry chefs, chocolatiers, restaurants, hotels and individual hospitality companies.

Finding the time to write is a compelling passion, as a consequence Gary has now written and published seven educational professional cookery books for students and training chefs, alongside his most recent and highly acclaimed ‘In a Class of its Own’. These books have been endorsed by industry alumni such as Jamie Oliver and Heston Blumenthal, who have both written forewords for the text book series. Gary has currently published a second edition to his award winning Professional Chef Level 2 which has been published in Australia too.

The Association Culinaire Française honoured Gary with the Palmes Culinaires Diploma in 2003. City & Guilds awarded a Gold Medal in their annual 2009 awards to Gary for his contribution to Further Education and the Craft Guild of Chefs have recognized his contribution to the industry by making him a Fellow in 2010 and he has won an award for the Best Education Chef in 2012 culminating with two Cateys (the hospitality equivalent to an Oscar) in 2020. Gary is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts where he sits on the education committee and he also works on the Covent Garden Market Authority Committee. He is also a Fellow of the Master Chefs of Great Britain and sits as Director-Trustee for the PM Trust which is a charity to support young people into the hospitality sector in London.

Gary relocated back to North Norfolk in 2018 and after extensive research and planning, he and Nichola followed their hearts and Hunters Academy of Food was born. An inventive food education facility – set in a relaxing rural environment – that offers exceptional experiences and culinary teaching for everyone from home cooks to industry professionals around the world.

Nichola Hunter is our co-founding Director at Hunters Academy of Food.

Her life story is legendary, not only is she a Hospitality authority in her own right, but she is also an award-winning Deputy Director at Kings Lynn Queen Elizabeth Hospital Trust, meticulously running all of the Estates and Facilities for this vital NHS Hospital in North-West Norfolk.

Nichola grew up in rural Essex, and as a child was already frequently travelling to the vineyards and restaurants of France with her father, mother and younger brother. These early experiences of French hospitality and her father’s wine import business had a profound effect on Nichola. Moving to Norfolk in her teenage years, she went to City College Norwich to complete her Degree in Hospitality, and as fate would have it, she joined the Management team at the Hotel Nelson, owned at that time by Property Partnerships in Norwich.

Almost immediately, her love for the hospitality industry was born. After completing her wines and spirits exams at the Hotel at the age of 21, she ran the food and beverage and hotel services operations successfully at this leading Norfolk hotel, magnificently catering for high profile events for which she became renowned for.

During the next few years, Nichola gained an enormous amount of experience in the business of hospitality. But in 2003 she moved onto her second career in healthcare at the James Paget Hospital Trust where she transformed the food and catering offer for patients, guests and staff by introducing freshly prepared and cooked menus. At this early stage, Nichola recognised the importance that good food played in the health and recovery of patients in the hospital. She launched the hugely successful Aubergine Café and revitalised the whole foodservice offer for the hospital, bringing its services up to date to meet a diverse clientele’s expectations and needs.

Nichola also found the time to co-author a Hospitality Management and Leadership book for respected worldwide education publisher, Cengage, targeted for students entering the world of hospitality management. This book is still widely used at hospitality institutions across the world today.

In 2020, Nichola began her role as a Director at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and is undertaking the huge planning project for rebuilding the hospital to make it fit-for-purpose for the residents of North and West Norfolk for the future. At the same time, she is following her passion for the hospitality industry and her love of the North Norfolk countryside with her husband Gary, to begin the county’s first Academy of Food at their lovely rural farmhouse setting in Helhoughton.