The Grumpy Cook

About The Grumpy Cook


ith a passion for good honest, home-cooked food, mixed with a desire to see smiles on face and emptied plates, Barry Ashley, is our talented (and rarely) ‘Grumpy Cook’.

Barry’s talent for cooking was a well-kept secret for much of his early life and was enjoyed solely by friends and family. Although when asked as a child what he wanted to be when he left school, his decisive answer “a chef” didn’t come to fruition until much later in life, when his circumstances changed and provided him with the opportunity to follow his dreams.

Although already an accomplished cook, in his early thirties and after the birth of his second child, Barry began to experiment and broaden his culinary skills, as now a father of three, dining out with his family was pretty much ‘off the menu’.

With a subsequent diagnosis of autism for his youngest son Connor, baby sitters were also few and far between so Barry decided he wasn’t going to miss out on his love of good food and fine dining so endeavoured to bring the restaurant to the family home instead and thus began his gastronomic journey.

As the saying goes ‘you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs’ and it’s fair to say, Barry broke a few – as well as few pots and pans. Maybe even the odd fire or two…. Needless to say, this was also around the time Barry was Christened ‘The Grumpy Cook’ by his family.

However, he persevered relentlessly and it wasn’t long before Barry was wowing family and friends with sublimely delicious meals and melt in your mouth desserts and pastries.

At the age of 49, redundancy reared its ugly head but Barry being Barry saw the silver lining in this dark cloud and decided that it was a ‘Now or Never’ chance to realise his dreams and ambitions so ‘The Grumpy Cook’ took his first tentative steps into the professional world of catering.


nitially working from his own home kitchen, Barry soon acquired an enviable reputation for his moreish and delectable cakes, pasties and pies and was in great demand supplying many cafes, delicatessens, farm shops and garden centres across Buckinghamshire.

In 2014, Barry took the plunge and opened the doors to his very own café in Howe Park Wood.

Barry’s cooking soon became a local hit and Howe Park Café soon became a favourite place for both locals and tourists to relax and unwind, whilst enjoying good food and a warm convivial welcome.

The Grumpy Cook has come a long way since its beginning in 2014, we now have 2 cafes in Milton Keynes, serving up top quality, homemade and fresh food.

Don’t forget to watch-out for seasonal additions to our menu, special offers and events and of course Barry and the team love to read your lovely comments and reviews. Perhaps you have a favourite cake or pastry you’d love to see on our menu so why not let us know?

Barry and his friendly team look forward to serving you up a delightful and tasty treat so why not join us for a bite to eat very soon!

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well if one has not dined.