Born in Southampton, Tony was brought up in the New Forest. He trained at Bournemouth Catering College and after subsequent assistant chef positions with local hotels and restaurants, he continued his training at the Inn on the Park in London’s famous Park Lane. Returning to the Bournemouth he owned and managed a specialist patisserie and coffee shop whilst developing a thriving wedding cake and outside catering business before the lure of London proved too much and he returned to take over the running of the hospitality division of the Burlington Health Club. To this day his cake design and decoration are much sought after.
In the early 90s with his Partner, Simon, they took a three-year sabbatical running an English Restaurant/Bar on Isla de Margarita (Venezuela’s Island in the Caribbean). Simon’s bonhomie and Tony’s excellent cooking was nectar to the ex-pats and locals alike and during this time they survived two ‘coup d’etats’ into the bargan.
Returning to the UK, and after nine years in London and the Home Counties, they decided in 1997 to move to Devon. Establishing a Home-Stay, guests were so enthusiastic about dinners that the next step was almost inevitable, considering Tony’s background.
In 2001 they bought a rundown eatery which, renamed and reworked, became one of Torbay’s premier Restaurants, The Orange Tree. As Head Chef and co-owner, Tony led the ‘Torbay’ food revival being rewarded with various awards including Les Routiers’ “Best Restaurant in the UK”. During this time, Tony mentored and judged ‘Young Chef of the Year’ South West.
They sold their highly-acclaimed restaurant late 2007, taking over the 150 seat Cockington Court Tea Rooms in early 2008. Whilst this kept them fully occupied, ironically it was the temporary enforced closure for the Sea Change Renovation project that enabled them to take a longer than normal holiday. During this 2010 holiday in the South of France, they toured several hand-made chocolate operations, sparking an idea to expand their business based at Cockington and create a new business venture.
On their return from France, Tony went on an intensive specialist course with top chocolate house Slattery's in Manchester to hone his skills and fulfil an ambition to become a chocolatier. Successfully vetted they received they keys to their new Studios in July 2011 – Cockington Chocolate Company was born!
Tony, making chocolate lollies, bars, and moulded shapes including ‘bean to bar’ and green chocolate enthralled visitors. Tony introduced a Chocolate Academy teaching students how to make Chocolate and in 2015 introduced a World Library of Chocolate. In 2014 he was invited by the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust to create a Chocolate Gorilla and in 2016 a Chocolate Rhino– both World firsts, both supporting Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, raising thousands of pounds for endangered species. Tony said “the thought of losing such extraordinary beasts inspired me to re-create these magnificent animals in Chocolate.
In 2015, moving into a larger Studio they continued their investment on the Cockington Court site. Early 2016 they sold Cockington Court Tea Rooms to focus on their acclaimed Chocolate business.
December 2019 they, in order to re-align the business, relocated to 26 Fore Street, St Marychurch, Torquay, TQ1 4LY
March 2020: they reopened in St Marychurch. Selling Tony's Art and his Design ranges alongside his Chocolates.. Uniquely we make all we sell....
"Everything is made on the premises and people can see me at work, making and creating”.
Tony spends his leisure time painting and has become a very accomplished artist spending much of his time exploring new artistic techniques. He uses acrylics, water colours, layering which creates 3D images, pen and ink.
Exhibitions in 2017 included, the Artizan Gallery, Torquay, the Contemporary Art Fair in Bovey Tracey. Tony was also invited to exhibit in Beziers, France and his exhibition entitled ‘Water’ was shown in January 2018 for 8 weeks. Now his Art hangs in both France and United Kingdom.
Accompanying his Art, he has created a range of greeting cards; these are sold in his Shop at 26 Fore Street, St Marychurch, Torquay, alongside his Chocolates.
In 2017 he was invited to submit a sculpture as part of the new Art Sculpture Trail, a first for Cockington Court. Tony sculpted a Swan out of White, Milk and Dark Chocolate based on ‘Odette’ from Swan Lake, standing 100cm high.
In 2018 he created a take on Gustav Klimt’s ‘The Scream’ being eaten by a Shark. Made from Chocolate it spectacularly showed his creative skills.
During late 2018, enjoying another holiday in the South of France, Tony became inspired by a new technique, anamorphic art. He challenged himself to learn how to recreate these fun and mathematically challenging pieces, learning the intricacies of perspective.
Offering to create one at Cockington Court Craft Centre was so admired by the Centre Director, he was commissioned to paint 3 more. All have been included as part of the 2019 Art Sculpture Trail.
2019 is proving a busy year for Tony, new art commissions, new 3D commissions, more creative Chocolate works. Tony is also an active Committee Member of the Torbay Guild of Artists.