How I Got Here: Stuart Gillies

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

How I Got Here with chef/restaurateur and former Gordon Ramsay Group CEO Stuart Gillies

Related tags: Stuart Gillies, Number Eight, Chef

The chef/restaurateur and former Gordon Ramsay Group CEO, who recently launched Number Eight in Sevenoaks, Kent, on working for Corbin & King, his travels in Italy, and what motivates him.

Why restaurants?
I fell into hospitality like many, when I was 18 and immediately fell in love with it. To be part of a team, the opportunity to travel, the food, drink and the true cosmopolitan element of it, I thought was so exciting.

Tell us something you wish you had been told at the start of your career?
Keep things simple. 

What’s your favourite restaurant or group of restaurants (besides your own)?
I like so many restaurants, of all styles, for so many reasons, so it's hard to choose. J Sheekey in London's Covent Garden is probably my most regular returning spot, which always delivers.

What motivates you?
Family first and foremost, however, I love seeing people having a great time and being a part of that in our business.

What keeps you up at night?
We are currently launching our second business, during a pandemic, which is certainly something very stressful and something that is keeping me up at night.

Which colleague, mentor or employer has had the biggest influence on your approach to the restaurant business?
Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, who I worked with in the mid 90's at Le Caprice and then Daniel Boulud in New York. All three were amazing restaurateurs.

Best business decision?
Best decision was when we set up our own company and became masters of our own destiny - I wish I had done it a long time ago.

Worst business decision?
I have made many mistakes in my career, but none of them have stopped me moving forward. 

What piece of advice would you give to those looking to climb the rungs in the business?
There is no replacement for hard work and thick skin if you want to get to the top. 

What time do you wake up? 
I am an early riser - 6.30am daily.

Coffee or tea?
Tea - a strong English breakfast.

How often do you check your email? 
Too often!

How do you let off steam? 
I exercise regularly - mostly running and cycling. And I go out to eat regularly, in the interests of research.

Do you prefer a night on the tiles or a night on the sofa? 
Night on the tiles. 

What’s your signature dish to cook at home? ​
I don't have a signature as we cook at home a lot as do my children, but we eat really well regularly. 

Typical Sunday? 
​Football match with our youngest (of four) son in the early morning, followed by a big breakfast or a big Sunday lunch and then at least one episode Gogglebox​ in the evening.

What’s the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done?
I moved to Italy with a one-way ticket, a bag of clothes, no ability to speak the language and enough money for one week when I was 21. I found a job in the Hotel Lord Byron in Rome and worked there for a year.

Favourite holiday destination?
The Amalfi coast.

What are you currently reading?
I read cook books regularly, but I'm also reading a fiction thriller book called Shadow​ by James Swallow - I like fiction thrillers as they help me switch off.

What boxset are you currently watching? 
I am about to start Squid Game.

What was your dream job growing up?
When I was a kid, I wanted to be in the RAF. 

If you could change one thing about the restaurant industry today, what would it be?
I would and and I am trying, to change the image that the hospitality industry is not a great career for life as it's an amazing industry. Hard work yes, but very rewarding which beats most other jobs.

Bio

Born in Crawley, Sussex, Gillies left school at 17. It was during the Thatcher era and right in the middle of a recession, so jobs were hard to come by, but he managed to do a three-year apprenticeship in hospitality with the final year at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington. He then spent six years living and working abroad between Sweden, Italy and New York, honing his craft while working with including Daniel Boulud in New York; the Lord Byron in Rome; and Restaurant Riche in Stockholm. He also spent 15 years in London restaurants - working first with Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, and later Gordon Ramsay. Gillies launched his first solo restaurant, Bank House in Chislehurst with his wife Cecilia in 2019. The pair have recently launched their second site, called Number Eight, in the Kent town of Sevenoaks.

Related topics: People, Profiles, Chef

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