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Simon Gregory

Having worked for Gordon Ramsay for 11 years, Aussie-born chef Simon Gregory is no stranger to pressure. Now executive chef at the iconic Bluebird in Chelsea, the former Wandsworth resident has had one of his busiest years to date – overseeing the launch of the new Bluebird Café at Television Centre in White City and taking the iconic Chelsea name across the Atlantic and opening Bluebird New York. We find out what makes him tick...

Who first inspired you to cook?
My love of food came from my grandmother who was a wonderful and traditional cook. Even though she had very little money she showed her wealth through her cooking and hospitality and loved using amazing produce.

What was it like working for Gordon Ramsay?
I started working for Gordon at Boxwood Café before moving to Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, his three Michelin-starred restaurant. Then I was head chef of one of his restaurants and finally for my last four years I was the group executive chef. I was involved in openings both in the UK and abroad and although at times it was super challenging I will always have massive respect for Gordon and the experience that working for him gave me. I think that at times, due to his TV personality, some people may actually forget or not even realise what he has achieved as a chef, which is really quite amazing.

Tell us about Bluebird in White City
It’s actually been a very smooth opening. It’s a really exciting time for west London. Some great operators are opening in the area, which adds to the sense of community. Collectively we are all creating a new destination for people to come to.

Can the Bluebird’s Chelsea vibe translate overseas?
In New York, we’ve created a menu that has dishes with a British feel while also using the great produce from around New York and across the US. We wanted to create a restaurant that resonates with being British and retains the style and concept of the Chelsea original without being a Union Jack waving take on British food.

Who is the most famous person you’ve cooked for?
The person that will always stand out was during my time at Catalina in Sydney when I cooked for Mikhail Gorbachev, the former president of the Soviet Union.

Where do you live?
We used to live in Wandsworth Common but now I live in Weybridge, Surrey, with my wife Sarah and our two beautiful kids, Isabella and Lachlan.

Favourite south west London haunts?
My favourite restaurant is Chez Bruce in Wandsworth. We have been going there for years – Sarah and I had our wedding there so it will always be close to our hearts. Other restaurants that we love in the area are The Dairy and Trinity in Clapham Common. In Chelsea we love Granger and Co just off Sloane Square and the Colbert, and I have always loved the Builders Arms and The Surprise in Chelsea. My all time favourite pub in south west London is The Eagle Ale House off Clapham’s Northcote Road. The owners David and Simon welcomed me 15 years ago when I knew no one in London – true British hospitality and a real regulars pub.

What is your favourite Christmas pastime in London?
Taking our kids to Borough Market on a cold winter’s morning for a family breakfast and then walking along the River Thames before spending the afternoon shopping for toys and Christmas presents along the Kings Road and seeing all the lights in Sloane Square. In Surrey there are so many amazing festive things around so the time we have away from work is very much focused on festive activities for the kids.

Any tips on hosting Christmas?
Christmas is all about family and friends and sharing wonderful times together. Make things simple so you don’t spend all day cooking and miss out on the party. Christmas should be fun!

 ©Lateef Okunnu