St Albans born and bred Josh Searle is currently the head chef at one of the city's most successful gastro pubs.

Dylans at The Kings Arms, on George Street, has been gaining momentum in recent weeks, having been acclaimed as one of the best places to eat a steak in the UK by Top Jaw and Sorted Food.

The restaurant has also climbed 22 places in the Estrella Damm Top 100 Gastro Pubs list, and is the only pub in Hertfordshire to make this year's list.

To find out more about the recent upturn at Dylans, The Herts Advertiser visited the eatery and spoke with Josh.

Herts Advertiser: The exterior of Dylans at The Kings Arms, on George Street.The exterior of Dylans at The Kings Arms, on George Street. (Image: AH Creative)

The 29-year-old chef began: "It is quite rewarding (receiving this recognition).

"It's something that we've been pushing towards for such a long time.

"We want to be in with the likes of Tom Kerridge, all of his pubs, and we feel like we're on a level with them.

"That's something that we're trying to establish here, the style that you'd get in London, but not in London."

Speaking of his own background, Josh added: "Growing up, my mum was always cooking in the house.

Herts Advertiser: Josh Searle adapts the Dylans menu to use produce from small, local suppliers.Josh Searle adapts the Dylans menu to use produce from small, local suppliers. (Image: AH Creative)

"I was always watching Ready Steady Cook when I came home from school.

"Gary Rhodes, Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, they were the big influences making me want to be in the kitchen.

"It was such an easy watch on TV for me, and something that I grew a passion for.

"I thought it was an easy job to go into at the time!

"I started off and realised its actually quite hard. There's no social environment out of work, because you're always in work.

"All my friends were out and about partying and drinking, so that was a massive shock for me.

"It's something where you have to either put your head down, or get out and do something else."

Herts Advertiser: Simplicity is the key to success, according to the chef.Simplicity is the key to success, according to the chef. (Image: AH Creative)

Josh moved on to how he came to a decision to stick with a career in food, and the challenges that he has faced along the way.

"When I first started cheffing, I didn't want to be a chef. I wanted to be out with my friends all the time.

"Then, I realised I wasn't good at anything else, I wasn't born to be in an office or on a computer.

"To me, it just didn't stimulate my brain. So, then I decided 'right, I'll have a proper go at this'.

"I went around a couple of restaurants, a couple of chain places, and I was just trying to find where was good for me to start off.

"I ended up working in a hotel, that was my first proper place where there was fresh food and fine dining, but it just wasn't the right fit for me.

Herts Advertiser: Josh has been working for Dylans for six years.Josh has been working for Dylans for six years. (Image: AH Creative)

"The style... It wasn't about the food, it was about how it looked. They had all the flowers on the beef. No one wants to eat that!

"Then there was a position that came up here. I asked a couple of people who said that it was simple food, but its food that everyone enjoys to eat.

"I came in here and just fell in love with it."

Josh has now been at Dylans at The Kings Arms for approaching six years, and has been head chef for two.

He explained how simplicity was the secret to Dylans' success, and emphasised the importance of not over-complicating his dishes.

Josh continued: "For us (the target) is just to maintain what we're doing.


"We're not trying to change anything now to try and get better, we're just doing what we're doing.

"That's why I like this place so much, because it is so simple, but it's effective."

Asked what the next step is for Dylans' progression, Josh commented: "It's always been our goal to be in that top 50 (of the Estrella Damm Gastro Pubs list).

"That's what we've been pushing for the last three or four years. 

"That is our goal, to be in and around with the best."