Overall ranking: 58
Chef ranking: 17
Bruce Poole - Snapshot
Bruce Poole is chef-patron of the Michelin-starred Chez Bruce restaurant in Wandsworth, south-west London, which he owns with business partner Nigel Platts-Martin. The pair have also opened two further Michelin-starred restaurants together: the Glasshouse in Kew and La Trompette in Chiswick.
Bruce Poole - Career guide
Born in Guildford in 1964, Poole completed a degree in history at Exeter University before deciding on a career in hospitality in his mid-20s. After gaining an HCIMA qualification at Westminster Hotel School, stints at Stakis Hotels and the Café St Pierre in Clerkenwell followed. But it was at the age of 25 that he realised his heart lay in the kitchen.
Poole first begged a job as a commis chef at Conran’s Kensington restaurant Bibendum, working under head chef Simon Hopkinson and alongside peers such as Jeremy Lee, Henry Harris and Phil Howard, the last of whom would shape Poole’s career. When Howard opened the Square with Platts-Martin in December 1991, Poole followed, before making waves of his own when he became head chef at the Renzland brothers’ Chez Max in Fulham in 1994. When Platts-Martin wanted to reinvigorate his Wandsworth restaurant Harvey's in 1995, he turned to Poole, and after it was successfully reborn as Chez Bruce the pair went on to open the Glasshouse in 1999, with Poole protégé Anthony Boyd behind the stove, and La Trompette in 2001.
Bruce Poole - What we think
In Chez Bruce, Poole has created a template for the perfect neighbourhood restaurant, and his influence on the industry continually reaches beyond the confines of his south-west London mini-empire.
That he came into cooking at a relatively late age may help account for his ability to stay in touch with his diners and his refusal to be seduced by passing trends. The restaurant is a perennial favourite among the capital’s diners and is often voted among the best in London in guides such as Harden’s London Restaurants.
In Hopkinson and Howard, Poole was also fortunate to come under the wings of two very influential cooks, and his gutsy, seasonal and technically accomplished French cooking bears the hallmarks of both chefs’ styles.
It was also, doubtless, a lot to do with his maturity that he was made head chef at Chez Max just three-and-a-half years after starting at Bibendum – where Hopkinson had given him little hope of making it in the profession. From there came the offer to relaunch Marco Pierre White’s once-iconic Harvey's in Wandsworth alongside owner Platts-Martin. He was reluctant at first; the site had become, in Poole’s own words, "something of a graveyard" in the two years since White had left. Promised a free hand and a holding in the new company, Poole agreed to come on board, and the 70-seat Chez Bruce opened in February 1995. Envisioned as a high-end brasserie at a time when such food was seen, in Poole’s words, as “naff”, the more informal aspects of the concept allowed for a high turn-around of tables, rewarding the culinary achievements of the site with commercial success. It won a Michelin star in 1999 for its rustic classical French and modern British cuisine and has also picked up three AA rosettes.
Poole’s commercial brain led him into two more restaurant ventures with Platts-Martin. First came the Glasshouse, which achieved a Michelin star under head chef Anthony Boyd - a protégé of Poole’s from Chez Bruce - and La Trompette in Chiswick, which also won a star. As well as mentoring his own chefs, he has also played a significant role in wider training initiatives throughout the industry and currently chairs the panel of chef judges in the annual Young Chef Young Waiter competition. It was with all this in mind that his peers chose Poole as winner of the Chef Award at the 2006 Cateys.
Bruce Poole - Further information
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