Flash-grilled: Tony Fleming

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Flash-grilled with L'oscar executive chef Tony Fleming

Related tags: Chef, Restaurant, Hotel, London

Former D&D London chef Tony Fleming is food and beverage director at the L'oscar hotel in London.

What was your first job?
Sweeping the floor at Woolworths.

What is your guiltiest food pleasure?  
I can demolish a full packet of dark chocolate digestives dunked in tea in one sitting.

What’s the best restaurant meal you’ve ever had?
When I was 16 I ate at La Tante Claire when Pierre Koffmann was at the stove. I remember every dish to this day, very inspiring.

What industry figure do you most admire, and why? 
Anyone who brings positive change through food: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall or Jamie Oliver, for example.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do? 
Something in medicine; maybe a doctor or a surgeon.

What is your biggest regret?
Not going to Paris to work as a chef.

Pet hate in the kitchen?
Posers. Just because you grow a beard, have tattoos, roll your sleeves over your biceps, wear a stupid apron with tweezers on and wear skinny jeans doesn’t mean you’re a good chef. It’s just cooking.

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
I’ve had a customer trying to reach over the restaurant manager to get to me in the kitchen, shouting at me to come out…. because we had run out of Dover sole. I told him to go away.

What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Richard Neat’s hot smoked foie gras with onions; totally awesome.

Describe your cooking style in three words
Bold, tasty and traditional.

Most overrated food?
Wagyu beef; not worth the price ticket.

Restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
Edible flowers, those are for the lazy chefs with no imagination.

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
Most likely one from the new breed restaurant critics on TripAdvisor…

If you could cook for anyone in the world who would you pick, and why?
Any of the French masters like Guy Savoy or Alain Ducasse. It was great when Pierre Koffmann came to L’oscar last year.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Make sure you know what you are getting into, and do your homework. If you are not determined, prepared to work hard and sacrifice some things then forget it and do something else.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
Erm... a stove?

What do you cook at home on your days off?
Lots of curries, and fried egg banjos for my wife. Also family favourites like pies, and Sunday roasts.

What’s your earliest food memory? 
Sat at the dinner table watching pig’s liver spitting under the grill and wanting to cry. Awful, I remember chewing on the veins.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
A chef at a three-star said to me: “A tree is known by its fruits, not is roots.” Basically he meant it’s what you do today that matters, not what you have done in the past. So I try and be the best every day.

What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
Being knocked off my scooter on Brixton High Street on way to dinner service. When I came around, I was more concerned about the bollocking I was going to get from Richard Neat than my health. 

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
Have you seen my hair?

Tipple of choice?
Negroni and American pale ale, in that order.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Anything cooked by my wife.

Related topics: People, Restaurant, Profiles, Chef

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