Published 3 August 2021
Credits: Georgia Rudd
Formerly of Hide Above, Dabbous, and Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, Luke Selby talks about the intimacy of a unique 12-cover restaurant, working with his brothers and hospitality in the UK
When I was looking for my next step after Hide, I really wanted to focus on the quality and cuisine as this is my first solo venture. For me, the size and how many covers we do really has an impact on that. At Evelyn’s Table I have full control and due to the intimate nature of the space, it allows me to work with and champion British produce. I can create a personal experience for our guests with the team and work with small British suppliers that are specialist in what they do – such as line caught mackerel from the day boats of Devon, venison from Aynhone Park Estate and even elements that we have foraged ourselves from trips to Yorkshire and West Sussex. In the restaurant we can do things, other restaurants will struggle to do – such as opening and sashiming beautiful hand dived scallops to order or finishing a lot of the key elements in the menu À la minute.
I was born in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to an English Father and Filipino mother (my mother grew up on a rice farm) and therefore my earliest food memories consisted of walking through the markets, soaking up the array of spices and herbs and our childhood meals had a lot of Asian influences. After winning the Roux Scholarship in 2017, this enabled me to live in Japan and work for three Michelin starred Restaurant Nihonryori Ryugin in Tokyo. My time in Japan had a particular impact on me, as I was captivated by the care and approach to food and nature the Japanese have, the respect for ingredients.
At Evelyn’s Table I highlight not only what I have learnt from my formative training but also the ethos and essence of Japanese and French cooking. Whether that be through the Japanese technique of infusion to create a clarity of flavours or the super classic skill of reduction to concentrate flavours as in French cookery.
It’s definitely a step up for me but putting yourself out of your comfort zone is the best way of developing and growing, not only as a cook but as a rounded individual.
I often lie awake at night dreaming of dishes and flavour combinations but mostly I would say that nature is what inspires me. Seeing the seasons change and with that an ebb and flow of produce that for me needs to be captured at its absolute peak and then served to our guests.
I love to prepare fresh fish and shellfish.
In the kitchen it’s just me and my two brothers Nathaniel and Theodore. There’s a lot to do every day and no job is too small, we all muck in and support each other. From cleaning the floors to butchering the meat and filleting the fish. We’re a very tight unit and we’re also very lucky to have an incredible team around us and we are all growing together.
It’s a very special and personal dining experience that you get. It’s special for us cooking and creating in the kitchen the then serving and presenting it immediately to our guests who are sitting directly in front of us.
I really enjoy the direct interaction. It’s completely unique from anywhere I’ve worked in the past. Every service is different and it’s amazing to get that direct guest feedback every time they’re served a dish. Giving pleasure to people through food is why I got into cooking in the first place.
It’s an amazing scene right now with many fantastic restaurants and chefs. The talent that we have in this country is immense and we have such an amazing diversity of cuisines.
I’m not sure I have a significant reputation! But I try to always be humble and stay true to myself and what I believe in.
I believe that we’re a new generation and breed of chef now that have seen the old ways of doing things and are trying to make lasting positive change now in the industry. There’s a lot of talk about sustainability, ethics of mainly produce and where we source things from but also, I believe that it’s important to also have this in mind with your staff. We are offering something that is completely unique in that we are only open for dinner service 5 nights a week which enables us and my team to have a better work life balance. We strive to execute an amazing standard of cuisine and service to our guests every night and we can only do that if all of us are happy and loving what we’re doing. You can see how passionate each of us are, and I really believe that you can feel that in the restaurant and taste it in the food.
Not at all. It’s something that should always be a consideration when putting together a menu. Where things are sourced and trying to support small businesses and producers. A dish will only be as good as the ingredients you use and when you are taking into consideration where the ingredients are coming from and how you get them naturally sustainability comes into it.
Luke Selby is Head Chef of Evelyn’s Table
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