Flash-grilled: Guillaume Gillan

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Flash-grilled: Guillaume Gillan

Related tags: Chefs

Guillaume Gillan is executive chef at the Bokan 37 restaurant in London's Canary Wharf.

What was your first job?
When I was 13 I worked for two weeks in a little bistro just a two-minute walk from my house. I still have my recipe book from the bistro with my first chocolate mousse recipe that I still use.

What is your guiltiest food pleasure?
I love eating traditional saucisson, but when I go back to Nice it is always petit farcis (stuffed vegetables) cooked by my mum.

What’s the best restaurant meal you’ve ever had?
My best restaurant is L’Enclume in Cartmel. I went there two years ago and the food and overall experience was amazing. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to do a stage last year. I want to go back again.

What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
For French cuisine, I really admire Mathieu Pacaud, who boasts 3 Michelin stars. I would really like to visit one of his restaurants in Paris one day. For English cuisine, I really admire Tom Kerridge as I like his style of working and how he designs his dishes.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
I have always wanted to be a chef since I was little. But if I had to choose another job, it would be an Archaeologist.

What is your biggest regret?
I haven’t had a chance to work in a three-Michelin-starred restaurant yet.

Pet hate in the kitchen?
I cannot eat meat or fish well done. I think it spoils the dish and you do not get the best out of the product.

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
Once a guest called me at his table to give me a list of 12 vegetables that he didn't eat. On top of that he was vegetarian and gluten free.

What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
The langoustine ravioli with foie gras sauce, a classic of Joel Robuchon. I love this combination.

Describe your cooking style in three words
Seasonal, creative, tasty

Most overrated food?
Avocado as it is the fattiest fruit and everyone is eating and loving it

Restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
I would ban staff walking into the kitchen randomly as the kitchen is dangerous

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
It doesn't happen often, but once I got someone writing online that 'the view was better then the food'. I didn't like that because I want guests coming for the food first and for the views second.

If you could cook for anyone in the world who would you pick, and why?
I would love to cook a meal for my two granddads as they are the reason why cooking became my passion. But, sadly I will never have this joy.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
To be in this industry you need to have a lot of passion and drive to deliver excellent food.  Being a chef is not easy with the long hours and it is hard work. Having good friendship with the chefs in the kitchen and support at home really helps.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
Actually it is three items that I always keep in my side pocket: a small spatula to try everything in the kitchen, a small tweezer to plate the dishes at the pass and a pen to write any ideas of new recipes.

What do you cook at home on your days off?
My fiancé always asks me to make a risotto.

What’s your earliest food memory?
I have two early memories. The first is cooking a marbre choco-vanilla cake, with my mum when I was very little. The second is with my grandma. We used to go to the horse butchery 'la chevaline' and she bought me the best tartar horsemeat to cook for myself.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
To believe in my dreams and to continue until you get to them.

What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
I had a scooter accident just before arriving to work in Monaco. I hit a bus and woke up on the floor with a lot of people around and my chef at the time. I remember telling him 'don't worry chef I'm coming in the kitchen' and fell asleep again.

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
Back home to Nice and sit down on the beach admiring the views.

Tipple of choice?
I love a good port. I used to like it before my trip to Porto and after tasting and tasting throughout the day I fell in love, favourite one is Kopke.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Charcuterie from my favourite charcuterie shop in Nice, Ghibaudo, with good slice of Barkham blue cheese, a good French baguette and a bottle of Tawny 10 years Kopke port.

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