Interviewed December 2007
Bruce Poole is head chef of Chez Bruce, the best restaurant in south London and one which in 2007 was voted London's favourite restaurant in the annual Hardens Guide poll.
Q – How long have you been cooking professionally?
Q – Where did you train to cook?
My first cooking job was at Bibendum Restaurant with Simon Hopkinson and constituted my early formative and training years.
Q – How would you describe your style of cooking?
Q – Is there a secret for a successful restaurant?
Identify what your customers really want and concentrate on the basics.
Q – Do you have a “signature dish” or favourite dish you enjoy cooking?
Not really – I enjoy cooking pretty well everything. I like offal particularly.
Q – Do you have a favourite ingredient?
Which restaurant do you most enjoy eating at on your night off?
Depends on the occasion. Current favourites are Tapas Brindisa and The Anchor and Hope.
What is your most interesting or fun experience from your time in restaurants?
I love seeing staff develop and improve and I enjoy working with dedicated professionals – I am lucky to work with many. Difficult customers never fail to amaze me!
What would be your “last request” dish?
To eat or cook? I would be very happy to eat beautiful cheese with fresh sourdough bread.
Is there another chef that you most admire?
There are many: Phil Howard, Shaun Hill, Eric Chavot, Jonathan Palmer (Anchor and Hope), Shane Osborne, Brett Graham …. Anyone who puts in the slog and achieves consistently good food.
Any advice you would give to someone wanting to become a chef?
Be prepared for how hard it will be. Understand how to eat and what gives pleasure on the plate. Understand why simple things are so good.
Any final thoughts you’d like to add?
I spend a lot of my time nowadays trying to remove ingredients from a dish rather than adding them. What could be more sublime than a plate of Joselito iberico ham? The depressing thing is that I can take no credit for its excellence – but at least I can put it on the menu.