127, Ledbury road
London, Great Britain
Australian from Newcastle, in New South Wales, born 1979, Brett Graham started at 15 in a small seafood restaurant a few steps from home. Liam Tomlin’s acclaimed Banc calls him right away from Sydney. This collaboration, however, doesn’t start brilliantly: «The first day of work», Graham today recalls, «I gave a pat on the bottom of the chef: ‘hey there, how’s it going today?' He took me aside and said: ‘what the hell do you think you’re doing?’. I had no idea of French-style hierarchies».
Having learnt to know his space, the chef won the Josephine Pignolet Award, a prize that allowed him to fly overseas, to London, to the kitchen of the famous Square beside Phil Howard, two very orthodox Michelin star and quite a character. It is behind that pass that in 2002 he obtained the stripes of “Young chef of the year”. Three years later he opened Ledbury in Notting Hill as head chef. The establishment, today one of the most popular in London, conquered the palates of the Michelin Guide (2 stars, 2009 and 2011), the World’s 50 Best (the highest climber in 2012 and 10th place in 2014) but also Zagat (best English restaurant in 2011). And the star for the 100% English cooking at the Harwood Arms pub in Fulham also arrived unexpectedly, so unexpectedly that on the website he apologised with the readers of the Red Guide: «Please remember that, despite serving fabulous food, we are still a pub, so the atmosphere is lively, friendly. In fact, sometimes it is even too chaotic».
It got very chaotic on the 8th August 2011, the summer that shocked London. And the Ledbury too. Some fifty rebels burst into 127, Ledbury Road, terrorizing clients. The flak from the kitchen, however, led by the chef armed with rolling pins and deep fryers made them run away. To close on that memory, a few days later, with a very British wit, Graham declared: «It's business as usual».
Today, there’s an Olympic calm at the Ledbury. A great restaurant enjoyed by the English and the French. He tends to classic, what with a haute geometric disposition of the ingredients on the plate and the rigorous cooking process of never-out-of-season ingredients. He shows he knows the dynamics of some heterodox and arrogant games in contemporary cuisine, without ever overdoing it – like when he multiplies textures, he puts mackerel with eel, he smokes pigeon legs using wild fennel sticks as skewers. But he never replicates the scarifications of many: the sunny figurativeness of the dish always wins. That is to say, everything is always recognisable and delicious.
born in Milan, 1973, freelance journalist, coordinator of Identità Golose World restaurant guidebook since 2007, he is a contributor for several magazines and teaches History of gastronomy and Culinary global trends into universities and institutes.
Please fill in the fields below to search our Protagonists' database.
Stefano de Costanzo with Giorgio Locatelli. They are key players – the former pastry chef and the latter chef patron – at Locanda Locatelli in London
Massimo Bottura with the vegetables for Refettorio in London (photoThe Felix Project)
Left to right, chef Carlo Cracco, the bartender at Carlo e Camilla in Segheria Filippo Sisti, and Jake Burger, master blender at Portobello Road Gin, in a picture taken early in September. The distillery with headquarters at number 171 in the popular road in London convinced the chef from Vicenza to select a series of botanicals to produce a signature London Dry Gin, a limited edition of only 1,000 bottles. We’ll taste it soon