Flashed Grilled: Oli Marlow

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Roganic chef Oli Marlow on chefs dressing like clowns, Domino's Hawaiian pizza, his favourite restaurant experience and his mum's cooking

Related tags: Fine dining

The head chef at Roganic in Marylebone on chefs dressing like clowns, Hawaiian pizza, his favourite restaurant experience and his mum's cooking

What was your first job?
I was 14 when I got my first real job as a pot-washer at Stanwell House hotel in Hampshire. Before then, I did smaller jobs such as paper rounds and car cleaning to earn a bit of pocket money.

What is your guiltiest food pleasure? 
My guiltiest food pleasure would be Domino's Hawaiian pizza with double garlic sauce followed by a tub of Häagen-Dazs.

What’s the best restaurant meal you’ve ever had?
I never thought anything would top the meal I had at The Fat Duck when I was 18, but recently I dined at Maaemo in Oslo with my girlfriend and it blew my mind. It’s very rare for a chef to eat out and not be able to criticise anything, but this happened at Maaemo – it’s hands down the best dining experience I’ve ever had. 

What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
There are way too many to choose from and I would probably give a different answer each day. But I would have to say Ferran Adria. Although I’ve never had the pleasure of eating his food, I admire how he reached the top of his game and ended on a high note.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
I love the outdoors and sport, so I’d like to be a gardener somewhere warm, maybe on a golf course!

What is your biggest regret?
Leaving Australia so soon. I loved the lifestyle there and the food scene is so underrated. They have amazing produce and great restaurants, I wish I’d stayed a little longer.

What's your pet hate in the kitchen?
People not washing their hands properly.

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
“That lemon Consommé was amazing” in reference to a finger bowl served with the oysters.

What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Egg and Bacon ice cream at The Fat Duck. It’s easily the most creative and complete dishes I have ever eaten, and it’s so tasty! It’s hard to keep flavour in something so different and creative so I really admire them for nailing that dish.  

Describe your cooking style in three words
Fresh, simple and tasty.

Most overrated food?
Iceberg lettuce.

Restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
Blue and white check trousers - why do we dress chefs like clowns?

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
One critic who really stands out was my school teacher – they said I’d never make a good chef.

If you could cook for anyone in the world who would you pick, and why?
Margot Robbie…because she’s a good actress.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Like any industry, be open to new ideas and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
A tasting spoon.

What do you cook at home on your days off?
When I’m at home, my go to is a good bacon sandwich.

What’s your earliest food memory?
My mum’s delicious BBQ pork ribs.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
My first head chef Luke Mathews at Chewton Glen in Hampshire once told me: ‘Travel around the world and experience as much as possible, as one day you won’t be able to do it anymore.’ That’s definitely stuck with me.

What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
I haven’t had any real near-death experiences, but once, when I went to Paris a few years back, I ate a whole lobe of foie gras in one sitting. I felt like I was having a heart attack! Not recommended…

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
I like to go to the park and wind down by listening to music and podcasts. 

Tipple of choice?
A refreshing gin and tonic with elderflower.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Mum’s Sunday roast, easily the best!

Related topics: People

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