We are having a good year, better than last year. Trinity is really busy, Bistro Union has found its niche, I have a vested interest in Story (Tom Sellers’ restaurant) which is going really well and I have a few exciting things on the horizon.
I opened my first restaurant (Thyme) when I was a 26 and it was a nightmare – it nearly killed me. I didn’t have anyone to support me, I didn’t have any infrastructure systems. My part in the Story restaurant project allows Tom to just be a great cook and be brilliant at what he does and be creative. He doesn’t have to worry about VAT, NI wages, HR, suppliers getting paid or the holiday rota.
Infectious, creative youth is incredible and it should be allowed to exist. He (Tom Sellers) doesn’t know what it feels like to get hurt. He will make mistakes but they are important and I am there to make sure they are not catastrophic. We have got another similar venture planned.
Humility in a young chef will always win them more friends and awards.
I have achieved more than I probably should have done. With the cards I was dealt I probably shouldn’t be owning two restaurants and the bit of another one, have staff and a couple of lovely kids.
I eat out a lot. I am a diner – I eat in a lot of restaurants and I experience service, dining and food & wine purely so I can learn. I really try to dissect the experience and work out why it made me feel so fantastic.
I don’t take decisions lightly. We have no boundaries between kitchen and front-of-house staff – we all eat together every day – but I sit at the head of the family and I take responsibility for it, I have 45 people’s livelihoods at stake.
The next Bistro Union will be in South London again. It has to be geographically right for me to get to with ease, all of my team live in South London – we know it and it knows us – and I have no desire to venture north or central.
I am proud of being in South London. In terms of destination, fine-dining, high-end, neighbourhood restaurants Trinity is pretty much alone. It is a hugely luxurious position to be in. Phil Howard (Chef-proprietor of The Square) can step outside his front door and look at another ten Michelin-star restaurants – that is a very frightening place to be, I wouldn’t want that.
Trinity will pretty much always over-deliver. People aren’t expecting to get what we produce in their neighbourhood.
Attention to detail is crucial to Trinity’s success. If a guest wants great food, great wine, great service at a good price point I have got a bistro down the road. The people that come here want more – they want a great experience and they want something above-and-beyond.
We are doing a massive refurb at Trinity in conjunction with the Clapham Old Town Regeneration Project. We are hoping to get seats outside, put a private room upstairs on the first floor and possibly take the toilet block opposite and do some kind of offering in there as well.
Everyone has done the street food concepts with dishes cooked by chefs - burgers, pizzas, hot dogs and chicken. There is one more thing that no one has done yet and I might do it and it is going to be incredible.
Phil Howard has been my biggest inspiration. He is one of the best cooks you will ever meet. I worked with him 18 years ago and we are still very close friends.