Chris Oakes (1954 – 2015) was part of the new wave of British chefs in the 1980s. After he became head chef at the Castle Hotel in Taunton, Somerset, the hotel was awarded a Michelin star in 1984 – a rare accolade for a restaurant outside London at the time.
According to Kit Chapman, the hotel's director, "Oakes put the hotel on the gastronomic map."In his books "Great British Chefs", Chapman noted that “Oakes’s themes in the kitchen reflect the down-to-earth honesty, single mindedness and restraint of his temperament. He does not like fuss. His preference is for clean, bold flavours and simply-matched textures prepared and arranged in the modern idiom without any contrived prettiness.”
Oakes worked at the hotel from 1983 until 1986, being succeeded by Gary Rhodes. He went on to work at Claridge’s, the Stafford hotel, and was head chef at Cambridge University’s Trinity College.