Fergus Henderson, Trevor Gulliver, Chef Q & A, Question and Answer, Chef Interview, St. John Restaurant, St. John Bread & Wine, St. John Hotel, London, City, East, Nose to Tail, Head to Tail, Restaurateur, Where to eat in London, Recommendations, Best place to eat in London, Traditional Food in London, Hotel, Where to stay in London, Traditional English Cooking,Offal, Expert, How to cook offal


St. John Restaurant, St. John Bread & Wine, St. John Hotel - London, UK


- The Whole Beast: Nose To Tail Eating [buy it]

- Beyond Nose to Tail: More Omnivorous Recipes for the Adventurous Cook [buy it]


In 1994, restaurateur Trevor Gulliver and chef Fergus Henderson opened what they thought was a simple restaurant, serving honest nose-to-tail British cooking. What resulted was one of the most influential restaurants in the world: St. John Restaurant.

Stylistically, it is simple. The aesthetics of the restaurant, housed in a former smokehouse, are clean lines, with wooden tables and white bricks inside, red bricks outside.

The cooking? Not only honest, but impressive enough to bring chefs to their knees in adoration. Anthony Bourdain apparently knelt in respect before chef Fergus Henderson after his first time dining there. Chef Mario Batali said of his cooking “it makes me want to torch my own Babbo restaurant and move to London to heed the master's call.” Chef Erik Desjarlais called him “a living god in the world of head-to-hoof cooking.”

The St. John crew are opening their third property in Leicester Square, called St. John Hotel. The hotel will have 15 rooms, plus a top floor suite, and a restaurant open for breakfast, elevenses, lunch, afternoon tea, and pre-theatre dinner through dinner to the early hours. The site is well-known to Londoners as the former Manzi’s.

Q & A with Fergus Henderson & Trevor Gulliver

Q. We're very excited about your new venture. What is the vision for the St. John Hotel?

A. Trevor: Ah, vision? Mmmm, sounds like close to a concept! Out of a discussion comes a possible project, which begins to crystalize into a reality. We take references from our travels, apply our philosophy, it's always an emotional thing lead by a site, we are intrigued, the place, the history works for us, then it is up and away, sign the forms!

I'd like to say we find our expression of St. John in a new setting and a new location, new daily rhythms, new things for the menu, our young folk ready to step up, we get to design and do again.

[Opening is scheduled for April 2011]

Q. You’ve described it as an “urban hut” ... should we think along the lines of Jean Prouvé?

A. Trevor: The reference is in some way to the style of the room and the security it gives. The phrase informs the would-be guest's expectations, we hope.... but Prouve does remain a hero, we hope he'd approve!

Q. How did you pick the neighborhood and the space? 

A. Trevor: Like all things, it came from a random(ish) phone call about the site which we'd both ate at through the years (every real Londoner has, just forgot that there was the hotel above) that left us intrigued, an idea we had about a hotel we wanted to do in Beirut and happenstance. There's never a real plan to do the next thing.

A. Fergus: I was attending a wedding at which this lady said ‘why don’t you open a restaurant in this palace, which will have to be a hotel, as well.’ That was that, the seed was sown.  

Q. Can you tell us about the restaurant and menu planned for the hotel? Where there be room service? What will be your unique spin?

A. Fergus: The menu will be St. John, but not forgetting it’s a hotel which changes things. Yes, there will be room service. We are working in a buttery breakfast bun. We will serve elevenses seed cake and a glass of Madeira, and there will be afternoon tea or glass of Champagne.

Q. This will be your third restaurant, will it be similar to your others?

A. Trevor: You'll see the philosophy and familiar faces, but like the differences between St. John and St. John Bread and Wine, the hotel will have its own menu, rhythms of the day (and night) and be a part of its locality.....genus locii.

Q. What are your plans for the wine and beverage program?

A. Trevor: It will be drawn from our existing lists, but we kind of fancy a Rhone emphasis, a surfeit of magnums and champagnes that reflect that it is the West End, in theatre-land and with folk ‘out on the town,’ nothing wrong with a bit of glamour.

Q. Are there any good war stories from the experience of doing this project?

A. Trevor: Plenty, but the word asbestos will do! Who needs global recession and bankrupt banks, if only it was the bankers.

Q. The hotel is taking over the old Manzi’s space, any of your own memories from Manzi’s?

A. Trevor: I was born at Westminster Bridge and for Londoners Manzi's was a fixture, I first met my father-in-law over lunch there (apparently I passed, as I got the bill!). It was where you went for a fish supper after the pantomime.

A. Fergus: I’ve been going there since I was a wee thing, out with the old and in with the new.

Q. Anything left of the old place?

A. Trevor: ....ah, we felt when old man Manzi took the money and went to Monte Carlo, the old waiters simply turned to dust. We are refurbishing the old letters and putting them back up on the balconies to read huitre, moules, langouste once more, but the rest is gone. We took the building back to four bare walls and a big hole in the ground, it was what was needed!

Q. When you opened St. John back in the 90’s, did you have any inkling of the enormous popularity and respect that would ensue?

A. Trevor: Well, to be honest, no!

Q. Have you ever thought of doing a different kind of restaurant, other than honest, traditional English fare?

A. Fergus: No, not that I’m Jingoistic, just I’m a British man cooking in Britain, using British ingredients and that makes sense to me.

Q. St. John is considered one of the best restaurants in the world. For young restaurateurs, what’s the most sage advice you could pass along about keeping relevant?

A. Trevor: Patience, to build something that has that sense of permanence, that is, as the French would say, comfortable in its own skin, takes patience, experience, your sacrifice for your staff who must come first, you pay yourself last, some stubbornness, remember what it is you set out to do, do not stray from the path (they will come) and a decent amount of working capital, it takes years, not months... oh and it does help if you can count and do have a little promise... and if you are lucky, a great partner who is also a great chef!

Q. Where do you hope to see British cuisine going in the future?

A. Trevor: The global fashions will come and go, did we not give the world the gastropub! Which seems be just a word really but... the bigger chains will dominate the High Street, local restaurants will still find it tough, ethical considerations will grow (a good thing). What to us at St. John seems the norm, will hopefully become more the norm out on the High Street and not another set of words (used by chain operators, supermarkets and TV chefs) seasonality, local, craft, sustainable, organic (where it makes sense), sensible, healthy, responsible... and good restaurants will always do just fine and there will be more!

Q. Have you noticed a difference in public perception of nose-to-tail cooking and eating since you opened your first restaurant?

A. Fergus: The fear of offal is going, but is certainly not gone.

Q. Fergus, since people think you are the chef who is willing to eat anything, is there something that you absolutely won’t eat or don’t like?

A. Fergus: I’m not squeamish, but there are certain things I don’t fancy eating e.g. I would happily not eat dog again.


Q. Restaurant recommendations for:

- Sunday lunch?

A. Trevor: Best is with family and friends in the garden at home in France, no pressure, no pain, folk popping in with their wines, me being allowed to cook, kids chilled and happy and then a deep and happy snooze under your hat... and to not answer the question, Saturday lunch at the Caprice in London remains a pleasure.

Fergus: Lunch at Sweetings for the observation of crazy lunch rituals. I love Ciao Bella Lamb’s Conduit Street, I’m sitting outside so I can smoke, much wine and lasagna and there is a park down the road, so the children can play. This leaves us to drink grappa and coffee for the rest of the afternoon. That’s a happy lunch.

[See details.]

Q. Off the beaten track places to eat, that you'd be excited to take an adventurous eater?

A. Trevor: Teresa's above Grau Roig in Andorra. A ‘little’ climb from the car park up the mountain or on the ski lift, winter or summer, a little bar and restaurant in a stone hut, great food, happily cooked by good people, dark red wines, a haven against the might and weather of the Pyrenees.

Q. Classic British?

A. Trevor: Ah, difficult, obtuse answer, we used to do French cuisine, some folk still do! Racine in Knightsbridge, classic French, great British French (folk forget did our kings not once own a fair chunk of what once was France?).

Fergus: Go to Neal’s Yard Dairy and try the cheese.

[See details.]

Q. Great pubs?

A. Trevor: Fortunately still many! The Grenadier in Mayfair, The Dove in Hammersmith, the Felin Fach Griffin Inn in the Brecon Beacons, Brew Wharf in Borough Market, but I would say that.

[See details.]

Q. Restaurants with great wine lists?

A. Trevor and Fergus: Rubis, Paris. Simple, great. For tete d’veau or pigs trotters.

Trevor: Fino, London. When you cannot make Spain.

Trevor: Terroirs, London. Getting better, they have realised no need to be too evangelical.

Trevor: Babbo in NYC, really good Italian list, and I owe them an apology....

FED: I just have to ask - why do you owe Babbo an apology?

Trevor: Ah, now asking a fellow why he needs to make an apology, tut, tut!

Trevor: Anywhere in the Piedmontese, when we have a new white truffle on board!

[See details.]

Q. Japanese:

A. Fergus: Ikeda on Brook Street is fantastic for Japanese. The rice in the sushi are just the right temperature, watching the chefs cook is a thing of joy.

[See details.]

Q. Any places you enjoyed on your recent US and Australia tour?

A. Trevor and Fergus: Lots.

United States:

Manresa, Barbuto, Boulette's, Spotted Pig.


In Melbourne:

Cafe di Stasio - a great lunch as ever with Ronnie di Stasio in St. Kilda.



Neil Perry's new big Gotham thing (Spice Temple).


Although the best in Sydney is out with Tetsuya fishing off the back off his boat, eating the produce he has bought with you that morning in the Sydney fish market, brilliant and kind.

In Singapore, Iggy's and our friends at Les Amis there (although to be honest, we went out and ate at the stalls with them, great food and fun! And really late!). We ate very well and happily.

The list could go on, the world is full of good and kind folk....

[See details.]

Q. Other than your own cookbooks, any recommendations for traditional English cookbooks?

A. Fergus: Caroline Conran wrote a fabulous book, which covers most of the classics.

[See details.]


Details of Fergus Henderson’s and Trevor Gulliver’s recommendations on where to eat in London, New York,  Wales, Paris, Andorra, Melbourne, Sydney, and Singapore.


- Deviled Kidneys



City & East

British / English

26 St John Street

London EC1M 4AY, UK (view map)

T: +44/(0)20.7251.0848 (make a reservation)





Mon - Fri: 12pm -  3pm

Sun: 1pm - 3pm


Mon - Sat: 6pm - 11pm


City & East

British / English

94-96 Commercial Street

London E1 6LZ, UK (view map)

T: +44/(0)20.7251.0848 (make a reservation)





Mon - Fri: 9am - 11am

Sat - Sun: 10am - 11am


Mon - Sun: 12pm - 6pm


Mon - Sat: 6pm - 10:30pm



British / English / Hotel

1 Leicester Street

London WC2H 7BL, UK (view map)

T: +44/(0)203.301.8069




The Whole Beast: Nose To Tail Eating

Purchase at: Amazon.com


Beyond Nose to Tail: More Omnivorous Recipes for the Adventurous Cook

Purchase at: Amazon.com


Q & A


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