One of Devon’s most well-known dining pubs is toasting another huge milestone this month after its own recent silver anniversary.


The Jack in the Green at Rockbeare, near Exeter, celebrated 25 years as an independent business last summer and now its Head Chef is marking the same achievement. The Jack in the Green, still family run, continues to buck the national trend of pub closures and now employs 29 staff having spent over £9 million on locally sourced food and drink to date.

Having served his apprenticeship at Gidleigh Park, Matthew Mason joined the Jack in 1993 initially in the role of second chef. Within a year he was promoted to Head Chef and the pub won two AA rosettes – one of the first establishments in Devon to do so and an accolade they still hold today.


After winning the South West Chef of the Year competition in 2007, Matthew has since mentored 4 more winners from his kitchen (as well as 3 finalists) in addition to the International Pastry Chef of the Year. At various points, the pub has also held a Michelin Bib Gourmand, a listing in the Good Food Guide as well as inclusion in the UK’s Top 100 Restaurants and Top 50 Gastropubs. February 2016 saw the launch of their charity-supporting ‘The Jack Cook Book’ which has so far raised £3,000 for FORCE Cancer in Exeter and features a number of classic recipes. Matthew has also worked extremely closely with West Hill Primary School for the last 8 years teaching the children about food miles, freshness and seasonality.


Paul Parnell, proprietor, had this to say: “When Judy and I took over the Jack – then a run down, near bankrupt roadside pub - we put pretty good food in, but more importantly great hospitality from a great team. A year later, Matthew knocked on the door looking for a job – 25 years later he is still here producing outstanding, great value food – unbelievable! We have always sung off the same hymn sheet and shared the same passion for food, drink and hospitality. I’m in no doubt that without his culinary skills, dedication and commitment the Jack would not be where it is today.”


Matthew Mason had this to say: “When I started as a young boy on pot wash I never thought I’d end up cooking for a living. That first job developed into the beginnings of my apprenticeship at Gidleigh Park under Shaun Hill. Fast forward over 30 years and I’ve been privileged to be part of something very special here at the Jack – after such a long time at the stoves we’re both now considered Devon institutions….. I’m trying not to creak!”

“During my 25 years as Head Chef I’ve seen so many different trends come and go but we’ve always worked hard to put our customers first. Awards have come in from Michelin, the AA, The Good Food Guide, Taste of the West and many others – our story keeps evolving. Still keen to progress further, I enjoy my role as a mentor to the younger chefs in the kitchen and as one of the judges for South West Chef of the Year - my work ethic has always been quality over quantity which helps to keep my mind sharp. Even at the ripe old age of 47 nothing can beat the adrenaline high of a busy service - long may that, and the Jack, continue!”


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