Interview: William Drabble
Interview: William Drabble
The top chef on why he loves living in Wandsworth, his favourite dishes and Michelin success…
It was a move from Birkenhead to agricultural Norfolk that first piqued a young William Drabble’s interest in food. That and the stories he had heard about his grandmother’s time working as a cook at Yorkshire’s great estates in the 1930s. William trained at catering school, and went on to become head chef at Michael’s Nook Country House Hotel in Grasmere, where he first gained a Michelin star for the venue at the age of just 26. He was sous chef to Tom Aikens at Pied à Terre and spent over ten years at Aubergine.
William is executive chef at Seven Park Place in Mayfair, which he launched in 2009. He lives next to Wandsworth Common with his wife, daughter and a crazy English Bulldog.
What have been the highest points of your career so far and what are you most proud of?
Retaining a Michelin star and 4 AA rosettes for nearly 25 years at Michael’s Nook, Aubergine and Seven Park Place.
Tell us about the ethos behind your menu at your restaurant, Seven Park Place?
Find really good ingredients, don’t mess around with them too much and let them speak for themselves.
What do you feel needs to change about the industry?
Since I started it has changed a lot, but it still needs to change more. We need to make it more attractive as an industry, we need to be able to give opportunities for people to grow and progress, and people also need to work sensible hours. To be able to achieve this, prices will probably have to go up. Until that happens, we will continue to lose staff to other industries.
What do you love about the industry?
You can be creative and you can learn something new every day.
How did it feel to achieve Michelin success so early?
Surreal, proud, and highly motivating. It also made me question a lot of things as well.
What would you still like to achieve?
Who knows… We will have to wait and see what comes along… old age.
Do you cook much at home?
When I am at home and I get time, I usually cook something simple for dinner or bake with my daughter.
Favourite dish to eat?
Depends on the time of year, a nice homemade stew on a cold winter’s day, or some grilled fish and some good salads in the summer. In winter, I love the game season, fantastic seafood, white truffle in November and December and black Perigord truffle in January and February.
Your top spot to dine out locally and on holiday?
Locally… Chez Bruce is about a 10-minute walk from home. On holiday… we try and find a good little local restaurant cooking local produce simply that is usually full of locals.
If there is one dish or technique everyone should master, what should it be?
Someone once said to me cooking is not difficult, it’s just lots of simple things done in the correct order at the right time, it’s just having the knowledge and understanding that makes the difference.
What do you love about living in SW London?
Many green spaces (Wandsworth Common, Clapham Common, Battersea Park, Wimbledon Common and Richmond Park are just down the road), good shops, bars and restaurants, and great schools which makes it a very family-oriented area.
Where are your favourite spots?
Wandsworth Common and Northcote Road. It’s also only a short walk down to the river and over into Chelsea.
Quite a lot of top chefs are drawn to the Wandsworth area – why do you think that is?
Yes, there are quite a few chefs here. It’s quite quiet for London and there are plenty of open spaces. When you’re stuck in a kitchen, sometimes you want some fresh air and to see some greenery. It’s also very easy to get into Chelsea and the West End.
Seven Park Place review