When did you realise you wanted to work in hospitality?
I’ve always had an obsession with the magic of restaurants, their theatre and the little bit of escapism they bring. I think when I first moved to London in my early twenties, I had already racked up a good list of restaurants I’d dined at, chasing the magic again and again.
Where and how did you get your start?
I was working in book publishing before restaurants, heading up the publicity department for Quadrille and largely looking after the cookery books, so working with chefs and restaurants on their books. It was around this time I began to really fantasise about doing something myself, I felt that in comparison to Europe, London’s dining scene was still so serious and formal. So in 2011 I opened Ducksoup in Soho, a tiny space, very relaxed wine bar restaurant with an acute dedication to cooking great food and serving well made natural wines.
Sum up your current work life in one sentence.
Diverse, creative and always moving - working in food and wine means you’re constantly looking for experiences around these two factors that bring pleasure and joy – and then working out how to translate those feelings into the way we do things.
Who has been really influential on your career and why?
Travel has been the most influential. Being open-minded and looking for the most humble and ordinary ways of doing things in other countries I’ve found, has had the biggest effect on how I do things and the philosophy I have forged.
What’s next for you?
To stand still, take more time, and do less multitasking. We’ve got to a point where we all do too much, and I often wonder if we’re doing any of those things well enough. So, I am taking stock, and giving more time to few things.
What’s your one piece of advice to someone starting out?
Follow your heart not your head, make sure what you do is you, and from you – however, always be willing to change, if something isn’t working. Restaurants develop over time, they become the embodiment of what customer and creator have made together.
Where did you last have a great meal?
Can I say one of my own restaurants – it was last week and it was the clams with Iberico tomatoes and fideou. That really was the last most delicious plate I had. Great meal was over Christmas with home cooked food shared with family and friends – little can beat that.
Are there any openings you are looking forward to?
I am looking forward to the opening of Lyles new place Flor which is going to be a bakery and wine bar. James has a very sympathetic approach to cooking, and I am obsessive when it comes to bakeries and wine, so for me, Flor sounds very exciting.
Where is the most exciting city for hospitality (after London)?
I’d like to say Tokyo because I love everything Japanese but I think food and hospitality wise, it might have to be San Franciso because the attention to great everyday cooking and seasonality, and the great cooks and restaurants it’s spawned tends to be what I migrate towards.