Gray, who has worked for Rhodes for 10 years, has decided to focus his attention fully on his pub in the village of East Haddon, which also found out last week it had been awarded a BIB Gourmand in the Michelin Guide 2012.
The chef, who actually started his career in hospitality at the Red Lion, said he also plans to pursue his dream of opening a Michelin-starred restaurant in his home county of Northamptonshire as well as running the pub's kitchens and working at its neighbouring Shires Cook School.
He said: “I started washing pots as a youngster in the same pub so it is a great achievement to co-own it. Now I’m looking forward to bringing fabulous quality, simple, affordable food to a great, British, traditional pub.
“It’s not fine dining it’s just wonderfully delicious contemporary food cooked well and, wherever possible, using locally grown fresh meat and produce.”
Time to move on
Gray, who started at City Rhodes before moving on to become head chef of Rhodes 24 in 2003, said he felt it was now time to move on.
“Gary has been an inspiration in so many ways and we’ve done some great work together but the forthcoming opportunities were just to good to miss,” he said.
“We are both going to miss working together it’s tough to change but he also understands that I have ambition and it’s great to have his blessing and support."
Gray has worked with a number of top chefs during his 23-year career including Bruno Loubet at the Four Seasons Hotel on Park Lane, Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons and Rhodes.
His intention now is to achieve the first Michelin star for Northampton at his forthcoming restaurant in the county. He says the Red Lion's award is the first of many future food accolades.
“I am truly delighted and over the moon with the BIB Gourmand it is an outstanding accolade of which myself, Nick and our great team including chef, Anthony Horn and Joe Buckley in Northampton are all very proud,” he said.