Overall ranking: 42
Chef ranking: 12
Will Smith and Anthony Demetre - Snapshot
Will Smith and Anthony Demetre are the co-owners of Michelin-starred London restaurants Arbutus and Wild Honey. They also plan to open a third site, Les Deux Salons, in London’s West End in September 2010. Throughout their three sites, Smith looks after the front of house and Demetre the food.
Will Smith and Anthony Demetre - Career guides
Both Smith and Demetre were born in the Midlands. Smith first studied geography at Kingston University in Surrey before following it up with a diploma in hotel management at Manchester Polytechnic, sponsored by the Swallow Hotels group. He began his career at Swallow in 1991 before moving to Cameron House on Loch Lomond, Dunbartonshire, in 1994, and then the Balmoral hotel in Edinburgh. In 1996 he decided on a change of direction, and switched to restaurants, joining Bruno Loubet’s L’Odeon in London's Piccadilly and swiftly rising to restaurant manager.
Demetre’s career began in 1987, working as a commis chef under Michael Quinn at Ettington Park hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon. Next came a three-year stint as a commis chef at Lucknam Park, and a brief spell at Harvey’s for Marco Pierre White.
In 1990 Demetre moved to the Castle hotel in Taunton, where he worked alongside Gary Rhodes as chef de partie for two years, following it up with 18 months at the Greenhouse working as chef de partie and sous chef, also with Gary Rhodes. During this period Demetre also spent time working with Pierre Koffmann at La Tante Claire in Chelsea.
Demetre’s next position was with Bruno Loubet at the Four Seasons restaurant, where he was chef de partie and then sous chef for one year. He then began working for Loubet at his restaurant Bistrot Bruno in Soho, before moving with Loubet to L’Odeon in 1996 as head chef for three years, where he met Smith. After being invited to take over as head chef of Putney Bridge restaurant in 1999, he took Smith with him, and the site won a Michelin star two years later in 2000. The pair parted ways with Putney Bridge in 2005 in order to find their own premises, and in May 2006 opened Arbutus in Soho on the site of the old Bistrot Bruno. They followed this up with Wild Honey in 2007, and intend to open a third, Les Deux Salons, in September 2010.
Will Smith and Anthony Demetre - What we think
Demetre and Smith’s breed of affordable Michelin-friendly restaurants took the capital by storm when Arbutus opened in 2006. Based on a marriage of top-quality cooking and good value, it was an immediate hit with both the critics and the public, picking up Time Out’s Best New Restaurant award in 2006 and the Which? Good Food Guide’s London Restaurant of the Year 2007 title, as well as picking up a star in the 2007 Michelin guide.
Wild Honey followed in July 2007, sporting slightly more luxurious ingredients, but still with an emphasis on value. The restaurant received a similar response, gaining Time Out’s Best New Restaurant award for 2007 as well as a star in the 2008 Michelin guide.
Many of the features the pair introduced at Arbutus – for example, not using tablecloths, and offering high-end wines by the carafe – were not seen as especially Michelin-friendly, an assumption the guide was swift to dispel. Since then, both ideas have become far more widespread at top-end restaurants.
Smith and Demetre have made a formidable pairing since first taking over the running of Putney Bridge. Demetre’s clever use of less-common cuts allows the restaurant to keep down prices, while Demetre’s accessible wine lists, based on offering superior wines in carafe sizes, and his helpful but unfussy front-of-house teams, help create the affordable quality that has become the restaurants’ primary appeal. It was with all this in mind that the judges awarded the pair the Catey for Independent Restaurateurs of the Year in 2008.
Will Smith and Anthony Demetre - Further information