Nigel Platts-Martin

Thursday 12th May 2005 00:00

Overall ranking: 72

Restaurateurs ranking: 23

Snapshot

Nigel Platts-Martin is the man behind four of London’s most prestigious and critically-acclaimed restaurants, which he co-owns with chef-proprietors Bruce Poole or Philip Howard.

He has set new standards with his two Michelin-starred The Square, the Michelin-starred Chez Bruce and Glasshouse, and the three AA-rosette La Trompette.

Career guide

Platts-Martin initially followed a City career in law at Freshfields and in corporate finance at Warburgs before he became a partner in Marco Pierre White’s massively influential Harvey’s restaurant in Wandsworth 14 years ago.

He opened The Square in Mayfair in 1991 in partnership with head chef Philip Howard. After White relinquinshed his interest in Harvey’s, Platts-Martin relaunched it in 1995 as Chez Bruce in concert with Poole, who continued to be his business partner for the launch of the Glasshouse in Kew in 1999 and La Trompette in Chiswick in 2001.

What we think

Platts-Martin shies away from the spotlight, but his restaurants have gained an enviable reputation for success, quality, consistency, and innovation – and they are as popular with the public as with the critics. They hold four Michelin stars between them, three have three AA rosettes and the Glasshouse has two rosettes

Platts-Martin’s achievements won him an award for Outstanding Contribution to the Industry in the Carlton Restaurant Awards 2000 followed by the Caterer & Hotelkeeper Catey Independent Restaurateur of the Year award in 2004.

“As an example of how to do simple things really well, you can’t beat him,” concluded one Catey judge, while another noted, “I don’t think Nigel’s restaurants have ever been criticised.”

“Nigel’s contribution to the industry has been through allowing his people to do the job in hand,” commented chef and restaurateur Paul Heathcote. “He has found the formula of finding good people and letting them excel.”

Platts-Martin took a bold risk with his chef-partners, who had both followed a somewhat unconventional career path, but it paid off handsomely. Howard had only been cooking for three years when he became head chef of The Square, had no formal training in catering, and had not even served as a sous chef.

Howard freely admits that the early days were chaotic. But Platts-Martin gave him a free hand – and some guidance on the merits of fixed menus – and by 1999 Howard had won two Michelin stars.

Poole had switched careers at the age of 25 and had been cooking for just five years when he was invited to head up Chez Bruce. Platts-Martin had enough faith in his talent to tempt him with a free rein and a stake in the business.

The chef-proprietors are now breeding their own stars. Poole’s protégé, Anthony Boyd won a Michelin star for the Glasshouse and Ollie Couillard, former sous chef at The Square, racked up three rosettes at La Trompette.

The four restaurants received seven nominations in this year’s Tio Pepe London Restaurant Awards and won two categories – Chez Bruce scooped the Academy Award of Excellence while La Trompette won the Best Wine List accolade.

Platts-Martin opens his fifth restaurant this year, in partnership with Howard, on the site of the Hartford Group’s old Dakota restaurant in Notting Hill.


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