What inspired you to want to cook for a living when you were younger?
Growing up I was always infatuated with eating rather than cooking. Where I grew up in Chiswick it was quite an eclectic area with lots of delis. All of my memories from childhood holidays seem to revolve around food as well – calamari in Spain and sourdough pizzas in Naples – so that’s where it all began. On leaving school I found myself working in a pâtisserie and I went straight to the kitchen. The patron of the business noticed me watching him and took me under his wing. Your restaurant Randall & Aubin is known for its seafood. 
What makes you so passionate about these ingredients?
As a professional chef you are completely involved in the world of gastronomy; the worlds of farming, fishing, wine, cheesemaking, so you owe it to yourself to gain as much knowledge as you possibly can as that’s what makes you valuable. I’ve been working professionally now for over 30 years and it’s that need to really understand that there’s crab, and then there’s crab. One of the reasons I am passionate about seafood is that it’s predominately wild and I find that quite exciting. Seafood is the most challenging commodity – not only to catch but to move around, sell, work with. The closer you can get it to coming out of the water the better it will be. It’s also extremely healthy. 
What does a typical day look like for you?
My journey with the restaurant has changed a lot in 20 years. We certainly focus on the provenance of our food and always trying to be better. Having a business in central London is extremely demanding and it has to go full pelt all the time. My day starts at 8am and I spend as much time as I can in the kichen with the team. I’ve got to do the buying, budgets and looking after staff and we’ve also now got a very large restaurant in Manchester, so I also go up there every other week. It’s quite taxing but I love what I do – working with food and creating. I’m very competitive so we are always pushing forward all the time to try and be the best. 
How would you describe the atmosphere at Randall & Aubin?
It was originally built in 1906 and opened as London’s first French deli and butcher’s shop, which has dictated the way it looks. I think the atmosphere is very important and I like to describe it as premium casual, which is the sort of place I love to be in. The fact that the whole restaurant is on bar stools makes a massive difference because it means you are at eye contact so customers feel a lot more relaxed. At night time it gets very lively as it’s a West End restaurant, people want to be entertained so it’s very engaging – we have a disco ball in the middle of the restaurant and it becomes full of energy. 

You love using the Grohe Red tap, can you tell us more about why?
It gives you hot, cold and kettle hot water in one tap and you can use it for so many things, such as poaching fish and cooking beef. It’s filtered water so there’s no limescale or impurities, which does make it taste good. Every kitchen should have one, as you can knock up all sorts of dishes quickly without using lots of pots and pans. The tap is also double lined so that it’s not hot to touch which is great for safety. We will be using them in the restaurant I am opening next year. 
What are your future plans?
This year I am going in a different direction and opening a Pan-Asian rooftop restaurant in Leicester Square, and then a Georgian-themed place called Hogarth right next to Nelson’s Column and we are creating a gin palace. It’s going to be frantic but I am very excited about it all.

Photography by: Graham Martin

Article by: Lucy Macdonald