The Australian - Wish Magazine - - FOOD -

Brett Gra­ham didn’t re­ally want to move to the UK. Born in New­cas­tle (the NSW one), he had spent a few years in Sydney as chef and had his heart set on Spain as the next step in his ca­reer. So when he won a culi­nary award that paid for him to travel and un­der­take a stint in a kitchen in Lon­don, he was not en­thused.

“I didn’t have much money so I thought I would go and work in Eng­land for 12 months and then make my move on Spain,” he tells WISH. “Seven­teen years later, I am still here. I did end up go­ing to Spain but it took me about six years. As a young Aus­tralian work­ing in Lon­don, I didn’t re­alise how it ex­pen­sive it was to live there.”

Gra­ham in­stead started work­ing at The Square in May­fair and made an im­pres­sion pretty quickly. The own­ers asked him to open The Led­bury restau­rant in Not­ting Hill in 2005. Within 12 months, he had his first Miche­lin star and by 2010, he had scored a sec­ond. The restau­rant gets con­sis­tently rave re­views and was named the 27th-best restau­rant in the world last year: the high­est spot for any Aus­tralian chef. He cel­e­brates 13 years with the Led­bury in April and is a part­ner in the busi­ness.

“I was 23 or 24 at the time [of The Led­bury’s open­ing] and I didn’t re­ally know much,” he says. “We started out sim­ply and very quiet. Of­ten no­body came and hun­dreds of times for lunch, we would only have five or 10 peo­ple. It took years to get to where the restau­rant is to­day. But the most im­por­tant thing we did is try hard to con­nect with our cus­tomers. Ev­ery­thing we do is based around our cus­tomers and how we can make them have a bet­ter ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Gra­ham’s food is sea­sonal and fo­cuses on show­cas­ing the best Bri­tish pro­duce, es­pe­cially wild game. He breeds deer in the “other part of his life”, and now has what he be­lieves is one of the big­gest herds of white deer in the world, kept at two stately homes in the Mid­lands: Boughton House in Ket­ter­ing and Ayn­hoe Park in Ox­ford­shire. They pro­vide a fab­u­lous back­drop for the houses (which dou­ble as wedding venues) and also en­able Gra­ham to learn about sus­tain­able farm­ing.

“The long term goal is to pro­vide The Led­bury with some amaz­ing veni­son that is sus­tain­able,” says Gra­ham. “What I am look­ing at is how we can feed these an­i­mals with­out fly­ing in grain from the other side of the world; how to re­duce the im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment.” For him, that is a much bet­ter goal than aim­ing to get another Miche­lin star. “It was an amaz­ing feel­ing get­ting two stars, but we were open for din­ner that night so you crack on and you have to keep go­ing,” he says. “It’s not some­thing I think about first thing in the morn­ing. I think, can we get the fresh­est pro­duce and can we give the best ex­pe­ri­ence to the cus­tomers? How can we do bet­ter to­day?”


Chef Brett Gra­ham; Hard­wick lamb; and The Led­bury in­te­rior

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