St John is the first stopping off point for many of the worlds greatest chefs when they visit the capital, whilst Anthony Bourdain devoted most of the "Fire Over England" chapter in his book "A Cooks Tour" to singing Henderson's praises.
Fergus is world renowned for his "Nose To Tail" approach to food which sees such unusual delights as chitterlings, chicken necks and squirrel make regular and welcome appearances on his award winning menus.
You may begin posting your questions at any time but please note that, for this session, they will be previewed. There will therefore be a lag between the time you submit a question and its appearance on the boards. Fergus will try to answer all questions but may need to limit himself if the number of submissions gets too high.
Fergus has been kind enough to provide half a dozen T shirts to be given away to lucky participants of the Q&A. Winners will be drawn from a hat.
St. John opened in late 1994. Chef Fergus Henderson and Jon Spiteri, the team responsible for The French House Dining Room in Soho, teamed up with Trevor Gulliver and found the then derelict building and saw the potential of such a unique space.
The premises, situated around the corner from Smithfield Market in Clerkenwell, are comprised of a late Georgian townhouse which at some point in it's history had a smokehouse built over it's original rear garden. The building remains pretty much as it was: the smoking chimeys - five in all - now house the bar, bakery and various stores. The seating area was an open courtyard, now covered by our skylight and what is now the dining room were preperation areas with our open kitchen towards the rear.
When Fergus, Jon and Trevor found the space it had been used for various pursuits since smoking stopped in 1967 - bean shoots had been grown in the basement, a chinese restaurant based nearby had stored imported beer in it, the upper floors had been occupied as offices, in the 1960's housing the HQ of Marxism Today, and the bar and dining area for raves.
With Fergus at the helm in the kitchen and Jon leading front of house the French House was left in the hands of Margot Henderson and Melanie Arnold - Fergus and Jon's respective partners in life, sadly the French House Dining Room is no longer but Margot and Melanie continue with their outside catering pursuits.
The personnel at St. John have changed since the doors opened nearly eight years ago - Fergus and Trevor still remain but Jon has since moved on to pursue other ventures including a successful clothing company. Front of house duties are now looked after by Thomas Blythe, and Fergus has a fine right hand man in his Head Chef, Ed Lewis.
Fergus Henderson has now joined the ranks of "published chefs", with his book Nose to Tail Eating (winner of the 2000 Andre Simon Award). St. John remains true to the ideals it opened with and Fergus' mantra of "nose to tail eating" continues to sum up the way in which we think food should be prepared and enjoyed.
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