When did you realise you wanted to work in hospitality?
I worked in bars while I was living and studying in Bristol. I really liked bartending and decided to keep on with it after I finished. I was looking to go and do something else entirely and needed to earn some money when I started working part time for Will Beckett and Huw Gott at Hawksmoor. I ended up staying for 6 years.
Where and how did you get your start?
Cocktail bars in Bristol. I imagine I’ve made more French Martinis and Strawberry Mojitos than most.
Sum up your current work life in one sentence.
Settled. It’s been a pretty wild few years opening and closing my own place so it’s good to be back into some kind of routine!
Who has been really influential on your career and why?
Lots of people but Tim Gould (Hawksmoor MD) is kind of like my work Dad in as much as I hear myself saying things and think “Urgh, I sound like Tim”. Seriously though he was a brilliant GM and later operations director and made opening new restaurants a lot of fun.
What’s next for you?
Hopefully kicking on and making Gridiron a big success. I’m also still working on Bad Sports, a restaurant I co-owned on Hackney Rd. We’re working on a load of events including a huge Superbowl party at Mare St Market in Hackney.
What’s your one piece of advice to someone starting out?
Become a chef. It might seem like an odd thing to say but I really think it’s an amazing profession. We’re so thin on the ground for talented, enthusiastic young chefs and there are so many brilliant head chefs desperate to impart knowledge, train, inspire. Yes the hours and the money are bad when you start out but if you stick with it the sky’s the limit. Much more so than other areas of hospitality. I think it’s sad that there are so many stereotypes about chefs lifestyle and it’s become self-fulfilling.
Are there any openings you are looking forward to?
I really hope that Mama Pho in Deptford decide to open something in North London, but failing that I’m excited about Din Tai Fung.
Where is the most exciting city for hospitality (after London)?
I’ve only been once but I loved Tokyo and felt that I only scratched the surface. I probably go back to Copenhagen more than any other city although what I really love there is the old school Danish stuff.
Who would you identify as a rising star?
Rosey Mitchell from Three Sheets in Dalston is such a big talent. Her drinks are exciting and modern without being too try hard and Three Sheets is such a fun bar to spend time in. Feels like a great antidote to so many cocktail bars that take themselves too seriously. Cameron Flynn from Xu is going to be a superstar no matter what he turns his hand to. Also our sous chef here at Gridiron Matt Heeley. He’s a top chef, with an amazing CV and I’m sure he’s going to be huge!