Overall ranking: 96 (93)
Chef ranking: 20 (20)
Bruce Poole – Snapshot
Bruce Poole is the head chef of the Michelin-star Chez Bruce in South-west London, which he co-owns with Nigel Platts-Martin along with the Michelin-starred Glasshouse in Kew and the three-rosette La Trompette in Chiswick.
Bruce Poole – Career guide
Poole was born in Guildford in 1964. He worked as a manager in hotels and restaurants, including Stakis Hotels and the Café St Pierre in Clerkenwell, until he realised at the age of 25 that he really wanted to be a chef.
In the early 1990’s he begged a job as a junior commis chef at Conran’s Bibendum restaurant. Two years later, Philip Howard invited him to join The Square, which he had opened the year before in partnership with Platts-Martin.
Poole started to get noticed when he became head chef at the Renzland brothers’ Chez Max in Fulham in 1994. He became chef-proprietor of Chez Bruce in February 1995.
Bruce Poole – What we think
Poole was a late bloomer as a chef and was initially advised at Bibendum that his chances of succeeding were slim. At Bibendum, he learned the value of carefully cooked flavoursome food using impeccable ingredients and no spurious extras. He also worked alongside Philip Howard at the restaurant, an encounter that laid the groundwork for his future career.
When Howard co-launched The Square with Platts-Martin, Poole had gained enough experience to be asked to join the restaurant, where he learned a more innovative and technically disciplined mode of cooking.
Eighteen months after Poole landed his first head chef role at Chez Max, Platts-Martin invited him to take over Harvey’s restaurant in Wandsworth, which was struggling since the departure of Marco Pierre White two years before. Promised a free hand and a holding in the new company, Poole agreed and Chez Bruce opened in February 1995. It won a Michelin star in 1999 for its rustic classical French and modern British cuisine and has also picked up three AA rosettes.
Poole has a down-to-earth approach and a hunger for commercial success. “I want to run a profitable business and I get a buzz from doing lots of covers. I’m not like a lot of guys who try to restrict the number of diners so they can spend ages on every single dish. I want as many bums on seats as I can get and to serve these people the best food I can,” he told Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine in 1999.
“Bruce has created one of London’s most highly-regarded and popular restaurants,” partner Platts-Martin said of Chez Bruce, who added that it was turning over more than three times what its iconic forerunner Harveys had achieved during its best year.
Although he has no plans to give up cooking, he has opened two more joint ventures with Platts-Martin. The Glasshouse in Kew opened in 1999, headed by Poole’s protégé, Anthony Boyd. Boyd’s modern British cuisine has won the restaurant a Michelin star and two AA rosettes, as well as the Catey Menu of the Year in 1999 and the New Restaurant of the Year accolade in the 2000 London Restaurant Awards.
La Trompette in Chiswick followed in 2001, and was headed by The Square’s former sous chef Ollie Couillaud (now working on Tom Aikens’ new venture) whose traditional French cuisine earned the restaurant three AA rosettes that were retained by his successor, James Bennington.
Poole’s success – which won him a 2006 Catey Chef Award – is underlined by his standing with the readers of Harden’s London restaurant guide who have voted Chez Bruce their favourite haunt for two years running (ending The Ivy’s nine-year reign). Chez Bruce was also Best Restaurant in the 2006 Observer Food Monthly awards.
They also named Poole the second best chef in London in 2006 (after the all-conquering Gordon Ramsay).
Bruce Poole – Further information