Flash-grilled: George Farrugia

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Flash-grilled with former Bob Bob Ricard head chef George Farrugia who now oversees Fenchurch Restaurant

Related tags: Chef, Restaurant, London

George Farrugia swapped Soho for the Sky Garden earlier this year, leaving Bob Bob Ricard to become head chef of the Fenchurch Restaurant on the 37th floor at London’s 20 Fenchurch Street.

What was your first job?
I used to work as a builder with my dad, helping him out from around age 10. 

What is your guiltiest food pleasure?  
Anchovy and cheese pizza.

What’s the best restaurant meal you’ve ever had?
It has to be Claude Bosi at Bibendum.

What industry figure do you most admire, and why? 
Eric Chavot. He was my mentor for four years and I’ve always been amazed by the amount of flavour he extracts from simple ingredients.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do? 
I’d be a lawyer. I studied law at university and was fascinated by it until I discovered my love for cooking.

What is your biggest regret?
Not travelling more when I was younger.

Pet hate in the kitchen?
Dirty cloths!

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
A lady once asked me during breakfast to remove each individual segment of a grapefruit and put them back in place to serve her.

What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Mac ‘n’ cheese, it’s the epitome of naughty comfort food.

Describe your cooking style in three words
Seasonal, Mediterranean, and delicious.

Most overrated food?

Restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
Plastic cups, they are completely unnecessary and such a waste.

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
A long time ago when I served chicken liver paté on a slate, and got “slated” for it, (no pun intended). Something similar happened a couple years later, when I served a dish on a roof tile; neither were enjoyable experiences. 

If you could cook for anyone in the world who would you pick, and why?
Al Pacino, he’s one of my favourite actors and I admire his work.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Work for someone who you can learn from and who you get on well with. To create good food takes time, and it’s important to develop a strong base before branching out. That becomes much easier when you like and admire the people you work with.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
Maryse or a small spatula.

What do you cook at home on your days off?
Slow-cooked barbecue ribs.

What’s your earliest food memory? 
My mum is Cypriot, so it would have to be her dolmades or stuffed vegetables with mince and rice.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Keep your head down, work hard, and you will progress.

What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
When I was about 16 I was out hunting with my dad and brothers and came across what I thought was a bull. It chased me and I ran away terrified. I later found out it was a cow.

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
I go back home to Manchester to spend time with my family and friends. I also love going river fishing around Cheshire.

Tipple of choice?
Has to be a gin and tonic!

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Would have to be my mum’s sheftalias; little meatballs, wrapped in crépinette and grilled over a barbecue.

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