Cheese toasties and catering for Conservatives: George Barson on heading up Cora Pearl

By Georgia Bronte contact

- Last updated on GMT

George Barson on heading up Cora Pearl
Kitty Fisher’s head chef George Barson is gearing up to oversee the kitchen at upcoming sister restaurant Cora Pearl. BigHospitality spoke to Barson, who cut his teeth under the likes of Nuno Mendes and Heston Blumenthal, ahead of the restaurant’s launch.

What’s the concept behind Cora Pearl?
The idea of the restaurant is “if Kitty Fisher's did a Theatre-land restaurant”. The menu will include a list of classic items that you would find in those Theatre-land sort of restaurants, such as a chicken Caesar salad, and a burger. We will be putting the Kitty Fisher stamp on those items, so the Caesar salad might be made with a nice roasted quail, instead, and a British cheese.

Will there be any signature dishes?
I’m reluctant to say because sometimes it ends up being the complete opposite. I'm really excited about the cheese and ham toastie that we are doing, served with our version of Branston pickle, cut into triangles. It sounds quite naff, but in a fun way. It has actually turned out to be the most complicated dish on the menu because it has so many stages. I have that in my mind as something that could become a signature, but part of me hopes it doesn't because it's the hardest thing to do

What will the interior be like?
We will have two different ambiences in the one restaurant. On street level there is a large open space with a small bar. It is very light, painted in pinks and greens with copper accents. Downstairs it will be very theatrical and much more like Kitty Fisher’s, with dark reds, golds, and a green marble bar. That’s how it should look, anyway. Currently it’s all covered in dust so it’s quite hard to tell.

What will differentiate Cora Pearl from Kitty Fisher’s?
They will be very different, but there will be a link in the food, because it is what I like to cook. Cora Pearl’s kitchen is much bigger, and it has a wood fired grill but it isn’t the main piece in the kitchen, and I didn’t want to create two places in competition, or to do a Kitty Fisher’s roll out in a larger location.

Kitty Fisher’s has a reputation for being a favourite of the Conservative party members. Are you aiming to attract the same sort of clientele at the new restaurant?
In London you have to cook for the area you are in. We do get a mix of people at Kitty Fisher’s: the foodies, the hedge funders, and yes, we do get some Conservative party members. It is a nice mix. Mayfair can feel like a little town sometimes, but Cora Pearl will be very different given its light, bright location in Covent Garden. We do hope a few of our regulars at Kitty Fisher's will come across, though.

How will you manage to head up two kitchens at the same time?
I’m going to have two senior sous chefs in each restaurant initially, and I will be running between the two. In the next six months or so there might need to be a head chef, but I am quite controlling and I will want to be in both restaurants.

Would you say you are more of an executive chef for the group now?
Technically I am the executive chef, but I don’t like that word- it makes me think of somebody who doesn’t cook much. In college, the executive chef was always the guy who turned up in a Porsche Boxster with his name embroidered on his chef’s jacket. I like cooking, that’s why I do the job, so when I got offered the new position I was very keen to make sure I didn’t lose that aspect of it.

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