Olivier Certain joined us a couple of months back as our Head Chef and over a recent beer in the bar we found out all about him.
How did you start your career and come to Somerset?
“I was born in Marseille and moved to Somerset in 1998 following my Michelin star training in La Bonne Etape Chateau Arnoux and Les Roches in Le Lavandou. My first job in the area was with Andrew Dixon at Porlock Weir on Exmoor where I was second chef.
“When I first came to Britain I met Andrew and we instantly got on. We worked together in a hotel in Ashford, Kent. Then I came down to the Westcountry to work for him when he had Andrew’s on the Weir. His food is wonderful and he’s a great friend.
“In 2006, I joined Woods in Dulverton as head chef where I achieved two rosettes and we scooped the accolade of Somerset Dining Pub of the Year 2008, 2010 and 2011. In 2009, I reached the finals of the South West Chef of the Year competition and the last few years have been just as exciting.”
You’ve won lots of awards, tell us about your recent successes?
“I was named as Somerset Life’s 2017 Best Chef at the magazine’s annual Food and Drinks Awards and I was also a finalist in the 2018 Trencherman’s Awards. My fellow finalists included Michael Caines, Josh Eggleton and Nathan Outlaw, who all have Michelin stars, so I was really proud to get so far.”
What’s it like to work at The Swan?
“I love The Swan, the atmosphere, the food and the people, and it’s always been one of my favourite places to eat. Paul and Donna are great friends and we get on wonderfully, so it’s fantastic being able to work together at last.”
What makes The Swan special?
“It’s a very relaxed, traditional pub with a contemporary twist and great food made with love from wonderful ingredients. Paul and Donna and the team have won loads of awards recently and these are justly deserved. I feel honoured to be working with them.”
What do you like to do in your spare time?
“I used to play a lot of sports when I was younger and love to be competitive. I now play volleyball for Taunton whenever possible and play in the Exeter & District Volleyball Association. It is a great way of releasing tension, getting some exercise and also a good way to meet new people.
“Walking is also something I enjoy doing. My wife Melenie and I have a three-year-old Yorkshire terrier called Buster, so we get out and about walking him a lot.
“I used to fish when I grew up in the south of France and always loved it. I have just recently started fishing again and enjoy sea fishing. It is a lovely way to relax in beautiful scenery. It’s a bonus if you catch a fish too!”
Where should people staying at The Swan visit in the area?
“Dulverton is great for somewhere to stroll around. It’s a traditional village come town with lots of charm. For a snack and a cup of coffee, pop into Tantivy, which is a shop, café and deli. It is a real must for anyone looking for a treat or gift and they also promote local food and drink, which is really important.”
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