London’s Top Chefs You Need to Know
THREE LONDON-BASED CHEFS AND THEIR RESTAURANTS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT
We took five minutes out of our busy schedule to chat to three of London’s best chefs, who took five minutes out of their far busier schedules to talk to us. If you haven’t had your lunch yet, we recommend you stop reading now. Here they are, then – three superstar chefs decked out in their finest Perci gear, having a chat about food and their London based businesses. Any allergies we should know about?
Gabriel Waterhouse, Founder – The Water House Project
Gabriel, you’re the Founder of Hackney-based social fine-dining project The Water House Project. But what exactly is the Water House Project?
With The Water House Project, we make tasting menus more accessible by incorporating a touch of playfulness balanced with sophistication. It’s my own approach to fine dining. It started life as a supper club at my flat in Bethnal Green, and has snowballed into what is now the restaurant’s permanent home. We serve a 10 (yes, ten)-course menu with paired wines or our own non-alcoholic infusions, and we work closely with producers that champion ethically sourced and sustainable ingredients, keeping waste to a minimum. We’ve also chosen to work with small-scale wine producers from Europe’s lesser-known winemaking countries.
We made a decision to cook one service per evening (plus one lunch service on a Saturday), which means we can maintain the highest possible standards – we know how many people we’ll be cooking for, so we can always prepare accordingly.
Through our cooking, drinks pairings, and the environment we create, we hope to introduce guests to new experiences and elegant, earthy flavours.
Our collective mouth is watering. What’s been the best moment, for you, since opening the restaurant?
There hasn’t been one specific moment per se. As we change our menu with every season, I feel like we build momentum to improve and build on what we have created before. We are very much in sync with the menus – as they change, we are constantly evolving and defining our own style. I know that at the end of each week I feel a sense of satisfaction, especially when I think of the special team we’ve created – and this is something people regularly comment on.
That’s very wholesome. What’s next?
We have a special collaboration coming up with Kødbyens Fiskebar, based in Copenhagen – one of the Danish capital’s most celebrated restaurants located within the Meatpacking District. They’ll be joining us at The Water House Project on September 22nd and September 23rd for two dinners. Myself and head chef Jamie Lee will be cooking four seafood-centric courses each. Think dishes such as St Austell Mussels with preserved lemon, fermented artichoke and monk beard; Hamachi with cucumber, horseradish and oyster leaves (official menu TBA). It will be an exciting opportunity for my team and myself, to host someone with different ideas to our own, and It’ll be inspiring to see and experience Jamie’s food in this way.
*Makes mental note to Google oyster leaves and design a shirt around them.*
Dom Fernando, Founder – Paradise Soho
How’d you get into food, then, Dom?
I came into the hospitality industry via opportunities that arose in luxury overseas hotels. Food has always been a passion for me and my family, so opening up my own restaurant was the natural progression.
For those who haven’t (yet) visited Paradise, tell us a bit more about it and the inspiration behind it.
I felt there was a real gap in the dining scene for modern Sri Lankan food that pushes the boundaries of traditional cuisine. Expect surprising flavours, interesting textures and fiery cooking!
We bloody love fiery cooking. You’re a close neighbour to Percival in Soho, why did you choose to open in the area? Just to be close to us, or…?
I really like the diversity of Soho. I’ve been coming here for years and I feel like it’s always been at the centre of emerging cuisine, with places like Kiln and Palomar. I like the edginess of Soho.
Oli Marlow, Executive Chef – Roganic, Aulis and The Baker and the Bottleman
What’s your food background, Oli?
After I finished culinary college, I worked in a couple of great kitchens in Hampshire. I then managed to land a job at Simon Rogan’s (then pop-up) Roganic. I worked in Eleven Madison Park in NYC, Maaemo in Oslo, and The Fat Duck in Bray, before returning to the Simon Rogan Group.
Decent CV. What inspired you to work with Simon Rogan?
When I first worked as a Chef de Partie at the Roganic pop-up, I was bowled over by Simon’s focus on quality ingredients and bringing out the most incredible flavour in ‘humble’ produce.
You split your time between Aulis in Soho, and Aulis, Roganic and Baker and The Bottle Man in Hong Kong. What’s your favourite thing to do in each city?
In London, watching a football match at The Coat and Badge in Hammersmith – I’m a Fulham fan! In Hong Kong, you can’t beat a trip to Repulse Bay for a day of Aperol Spritz on the beach.
Sounds idyllic to us. Waiter, excuse me, can we have the bill please?