This 36 year old chef began his culinary career in his home county of Shropshire, England, at the Shrewsbury College of Arts and Technology. He devoured Marco Pierre White’s cookbook White Heat, and worked across a stable of well-heeled English country hotel kitchens, which provided robust training using classical French techniques.
After graduation, Dale went on to work for two hotels which both enjoyed a reputation for outstanding cuisine. During this time, Dale had the opportunity of dining at the restaurant of the three-Michelin-star chef Nico Ladenis, on Park Lane, believing this to be a "gastronomic revelation". That dining experience inspired Dale to write a letter that changed his life...
Having dined at the acclaimed Gidleigh Park (another Relais & Chateaux Grand Chef property), Dale contacted its two-Michelin-star chef Michael Caines MBE, to enquire about vacancies within the kitchen team. Caines advised that there were no vacancies, but suggested Dale visit anyway. “I was there, worked for a day in the kitchen, then Michael asked me to cook for him. I did braised fish with young vegetables. He took the meal into his office and closed the door. The other staff were having a joke and saying ‘he never eats anything.’ Then he reappeared and offered me a job. It was amazing…he is the most respected chef in England and I stayed for four years.” Gartland became sous chef under Caines’ guidance and regards him as not only one of the major influences in his career but credits him for catapulting his career forwards.
After four years at Gidleigh Park, an opportunity presented itself to work for Julian and Josie Robertson at their new property in the far North of New Zealand, Kauri Cliffs. Dale soon raced up the ladder of culinary responsibility to become joint Head Chef at Kauri Cliffs and then moved to Hawke’s Bay in late 2007 to open The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, expanding his role to become Group Head Chef and overseeing the kitchen operations for both properties. The move to Hawke’s Bay created an exceptional set of opportunities for Dale - with an abundance of world-class food and wine, the Hawke's Bay region really is a chef’s dream!
2010 saw Dale take on an even greater role within the Robertson’s group of luxury lodges with a move to New Zealand’s adventure capital – Queenstown - where Gartland opened Matakauri Lodge. As befits the sheer magnificence of this landscape, the lodge experience that awaits guests here is exceptional. Superb cuisine and an exceptional wine cellar set a world-class table at Matakauri Lodge, all served before a stunning panorama of alpine lake and rugged mountain peaks. The menus Dale created at Matakauri Lodge showcase the finest and freshest ingredients available in the Otago region - from organic local produce and artisan breads, to farm-raised New Zealand beef and lamb and mouthwatering seafood.
In 2012, Dale continued with his role as Group Head Chef, and returned North to The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs, where he currently bases himself while overseeing a team of chefs across all three lodges.
Some of the world’s top chefs have traveled to the Robertson Family group of luxury lodges, where Dale has shared his kitchen for the properties' ever popular Food & Wine events. Guest chefs have included the UK’s Rick Stein, Australian celebrity chef Neil Perry, Sydney based celebrity chef Pete Evans, and many more. In 2011 Dale was one of a trio of chefs for the Three Chefs Dinner at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers which he prepared alongside international star chefs Thomas Keller and Heston Blumenthal for a sell-out event.
Dale has also been in demand as a Guest Chef, cooking aboard Silverseas Cruises and most recently, at The Hong Kong Country Club, Hong Kong.