Interviewed May 2009
Stevey Williams is head chef of the Harwood Arms, the gastropub in Fulham that is leading the way in London in this genre of serious food in a pub setting.
Q – How long have you been cooking professionally?
Q – Where did you train to cook?
I attended Westminster College for 3 years - Professional chefs diploma.
Q – How would you describe your style of cooking?
Approachable, smart, British gastropub food
Q – Is there a secret for a successful restaurant?
The staff - it's certainly not a secret! A small group of people with a shared vision, good work ethic and ability to build a team around them.
Q – Do you have a “signature dish” or favourite dish you enjoy cooking?
I guess the Venison scotch egg has become the signature of The Harwood. I like the dishes customers find fun on the menu like the game tea and lemon sherbet doughnuts.
Q – Do you have a favourite ingredient?
No. however I have enjoyed the opportunity to work with venison at The Harwood. It is a real challenge using every last bit of these beautiful animals.
Which restaurant do you most enjoy eating at on your night off?
Haven't done that in a while! ...maybe The Anchor and Hope for a noisy night out with friends.
What is your most interesting or fun experience from your time in restaurants?
Being part of the original team when The Ledbury opened. I saw first-hand what opening a restaurant of its level takes. The human energy, commitment and hard cash was more than I could ever imagine.
What would be your “last request” dish?
Freshly made, freshly churned vanilla ice cream. Heaven in a bowl.
Is there another chef that you most admire?
I have worked with several, but I have to mention Brett Graham and Rosie Sykes. Brett has helped and encouraged me in my career since we met at The Square. His energy and understanding of how people enjoy food has made The Ledbury such a success. Rosie gave me a summer job in my first year at college at her pub the Sutton Arms in Barbican- now sadly closed. Despite only working together for a short time, her understanding of simple, unpretentious and delicious food will always stay with me. She is also a great author.
Any advice you would give to someone wanting to become a chef?
It sounds terrible, but don't! All the right sort of people for kitchens will just laugh at that comment and do it anyway... you have to be a little strange. No, seriously.... It is a career that can reward hard work and vision quickly. Be humble and don't forget that the most important thing is that the food is delicious.
Any final thoughts you’d like to add?