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London food scene from a chef's viewpoint


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I'm a chef currently based in San Francisco. I'm looking at moving to London in approximately a year and a half to two years (when the girlfriend begins grad school), and I want to know which restaurants are really worth cooking at. Obviously I can read the Michelin guide or other restaurant reviews, but that doesn't really tell me much about the kitchen. Things like, does the chef work the line, is he or she trying to build on what they have or are they sitting on whatever reputation they already have, etc... If there are any London industry pros reading this, I'd love to hear your opinions. Thanks

-Tyson

"center, re-center, collect, and choose moments and faces, still lifes and slices of life, bodies and objects, unbelievable accumulations and sly illuminations"

-Michel Bras

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Not being a chef but a FOH guy I would recommend looking at Tom Aitkens, La Gavroche, Gordon Ramsey's Royal Hospital Road, and St. John's as the places to work. In my humble opinion Tom Aiktens is the chap to watch!

Cheers,

Stephen Bonner

Edited by SBonner (log)

"who needs a wine list when you can get pissed on dessert" Gordon Ramsey Kitchen Nightmares 2005

MY BLOG

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I'm a chef currently based in San Francisco.  I'm looking at moving to London in approximately a year and a half to two years (when the girlfriend begins grad school), and I want to know which restaurants are really worth cooking at.  Obviously I can read the Michelin guide or other restaurant reviews, but that doesn't really tell me much about the kitchen.  Things like, does the chef work the line, is he or she trying to build on what they have or are they sitting on whatever reputation they already have, etc...  If there are any London industry pros reading this, I'd love to hear your opinions.  Thanks

-Tyson

well after working in london for a while and and knows all the kitchens quite good i can say that Tom Aikens is not the right kitchen to work in all the people i know that has worked there say its the worst atmosphere and team ever (no one stays for longer than a year) one friend of mine even have to stay for a staff meeting after cleaning at two a clock at night he got out at 5. I can´t unfortunatly say that i can see a rising star on the restaurant horizon in london, the Ledbury just got a star w a very young and ambitious head chef maybe or Hibiscus if they move to london as expected. otherwise you could go to GR but kinda same story as with Tom good food but shit atmosphere. But if you are planing to stay for long its a great company to grow in and progress. Pied a Terre and The square is two other alternatives wich has just as good food as GR and TA but much better atmosphere (worked at PAT for 1 1/2 years learned some really interessting stuff). I have to warne you about the hours at these places are quite absurd like sometimes 17 hour days five days in a row it gets to you i promise especially when you have someone screaming at u half the time. outside of london you have the vinyard wich is interessting stuff and of course the fat duck.

/Mag

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I'm a chef currently based in San Francisco.  I'm looking at moving to London in approximately a year and a half to two years (when the girlfriend begins grad school), and I want to know which restaurants are really worth cooking at.  Obviously I can read the Michelin guide or other restaurant reviews, but that doesn't really tell me much about the kitchen.  Things like, does the chef work the line, is he or she trying to build on what they have or are they sitting on whatever reputation they already have, etc...  If there are any London industry pros reading this, I'd love to hear your opinions.  Thanks

-Tyson

well after working in london for a while and and knows all the kitchens quite good i can say that Tom Aikens is not the right kitchen to work in all the people i know that has worked there say its the worst atmosphere and team ever (no one stays for longer than a year) one friend of mine even have to stay for a staff meeting after cleaning at two a clock at night he got out at 5. I can´t unfortunatly say that i can see a rising star on the restaurant horizon in london, the Ledbury just got a star w a very young and ambitious head chef maybe or Hibiscus if they move to london as expected. otherwise you could go to GR but kinda same story as with Tom good food but shit atmosphere. But if you are planing to stay for long its a great company to grow in and progress. Pied a Terre and The square is two other alternatives wich has just as good food as GR and TA but much better atmosphere (worked at PAT for 1 1/2 years learned some really interessting stuff). I have to warne you about the hours at these places are quite absurd like sometimes 17 hour days five days in a row it gets to you i promise especially when you have someone screaming at u half the time. outside of london you have the vinyard wich is interessting stuff and of course the fat duck.

/Mag

Thanks for all the information guys, it definitely gives me a starting point. Anyone else out there, feel free to pass along a few words.

-Tyson

"center, re-center, collect, and choose moments and faces, still lifes and slices of life, bodies and objects, unbelievable accumulations and sly illuminations"

-Michel Bras

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I also meant to ask, anyone know anything about working at Pierre Gagnaire's Sketch? Thanks.

-Tyson

"center, re-center, collect, and choose moments and faces, still lifes and slices of life, bodies and objects, unbelievable accumulations and sly illuminations"

-Michel Bras

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Tyson,

From the point of view of personal development, whilst working in one of the Ramsay Group restaurants will be a LOT of hard work, this would deffinately set you up for life, ensure employment at almost any restaurant, and teach you a lot of excellent skills and discipline. Not sure if I would agree about there being no atmosphere, just look at how loyal all the staff are there, and how many of his apprentices are now running their own restaurats and who have developed excellent reputations in their own right. Others to consider would be St. John, Chez Bruce, Pied a Tere, The Orrery, The Ledbury and 1 Lombard Street!

Good luck! :biggrin:

If a man makes a statement and a woman is not around to witness it, is he still wrong?

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I have a restraining order stopping me going near professional kitchens, but the jist I get from speaking to folk in the trade is that River Cafe, Aubergine and Le Garvoche are all pleasant places to work. And, among the Michelin-level places, the one that gets bad-mouthed most often is Lindsay House.

Also, I'm told it's a big advantage if you speak French. Or Polish.

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i'd say the river cafe....http://www.rivercafe.co.uk/rc_page.php?pg_id=1......lots of their former chefs have moved on to their own thing after a stint. Lots of training and experince....they send their staff to Italy and this shows especially with the knowledge of the waiting staff. Know two people who have/are working their and they have only good things to say. While it may not be as technically challenging (though it is difficult to do simple well) it's focus on seasonal ingredients and local provenence (sure they get some gear from Italy) is not something that they have jumped on the bank wagon of....they've been going and doing for a long time.

bakerestates

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Two suggestions:

1. Chris Staines at Foliage runs the best kitchen i have seen in terms of morale and development, and is a bloody good chef to boot.

2. The Square/Phillip Howard is somewhere i always hear that is good to work, good training and good development opportunities.

Good luck.

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I also meant to ask, anyone know anything about working at Pierre Gagnaire's Sketch?  Thanks.

-Tyson

a yes if u know french that could be a good option actually very intresting food. Another frenchman Joel Robuchon is coming to town with his L´atelier brand in early next year thats also a very good company to grow in I know they are recruiting know aswell

outMag

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L'Atelier early next year? I thought it was going to be September or has it slipped again. The publicity machine has swung into action as it was listed in the "going up" section of the Sunday Times Style magazine - I doubt it would be in here if it wasn't opening until next year, in fact I would hazard a guess that it might have a soft opening very soon indeed?

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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L'Atelier early next year? I thought it was going to be September or has it slipped again. The publicity machine has swung into action as it was listed in the "going up" section of the Sunday Times Style magazine - I doubt it would be in here if it wasn't opening until next year, in fact I would hazard a guess that it might have a soft opening very soon indeed?

where's the proposed site matt?

french food fashionable again :smile:

you don't win friends with salad

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L'Atelier early next year? I thought it was going to be September or has it slipped again. The publicity machine has swung into action as it was listed in the "going up" section of the Sunday Times Style magazine - I doubt it would be in here if it wasn't opening until next year, in fact I would hazard a guess that it might have a soft opening very soon indeed?

where's the proposed site matt?

french food fashionable again :smile:

It's West Street, Covent Garden, the old East@West site, isn't it? Went past a few days ago and work was progressing.

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As I understand it, only the second floor 'La Cuisine de Joel Robuchon' restaurant will take reservations, the ground floor eating bar and first floor dining room will not. There's also a bar and terrace on the third floor but I've no idea if that will serve food or not.

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Indeed, yestreday there were still reservations available for the first Saturday. L'Atelier will take reservations but only for the first seats at lunch or dinner, after that you join the queue although I get the impression that you will be given an approximate time and they will call you from the bar (don't take that last bit as gospel)

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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NY is presumably more important though as he will only be in London for the opening night before heading back to NY :hmmm:

I'm assured he'll be there on the Saturday as well. Not sure how much longer he'll be around for after that but head chef is Frédéric Simoninon, formerly of La Table du Robuchon in Paris which has two stars so he's got a top man in charge.

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