Overall ranking: 57 (72)
Restaurateurs ranking: 15 (23)
Nigel Platts-Martin – Snapshot
Nigel Platts-Martin is the man behind five of London’s most critically-acclaimed and popular restaurants, which he co-owns with two chef-proprietors – either Bruce Poole or Philip Howard. They employ a total of 220 staff hold a total of five Michelin stars and serve 190,000 customers a year.
He has set new standards with the two Michelin-starred The Square; the Michelin-starred Chez Bruce, Glasshouse and Ledbury; and the three AA-rosette La Trompette.
The portfolio is as profitable as it is popular, achieving annual sales of £13.2m.
Nigel Platts-Martin – Career guide
Nigel Platts-Martin, who is 51 this year, initially followed a City career in law at Freshfields and in corporate finance at Warburgs before he became a partner in Marco Pierre White’s massively influential Harvey’s restaurant in Wandsworth in 1987.
He opened The Square in Mayfair in 1991 in partnership with head chef Philip Howard. After White relinquinshed his interest in Harvey’s, Platts-Martin relaunched it in 1995 as Chez Bruce in concert with Poole, who continued to be his business partner for the launch of the Glasshouse in Kew in 1999 and La Trompette in Chiswick in 2001. He opened his fifth restaurant, the Ledbury in Notting Hill, in 2005 in concert with Howard.
Nigel Platts-Martin – What we think
Nigel Platts-Martin shies away from the spotlight, but his restaurants have gained an enviable reputation for success, quality, consistency, and innovation – and they are as popular with the public as with the critics. They hold four Michelin stars between them, four have three AA rosettes and the Glasshouse has two rosettes.
Platts-Martin’s achievements won him an award for Outstanding Contribution to the Industry in the Carlton Restaurant Awards 2000 followed by the Caterer and Hotelkeeper Independent Restaurateur of the Year Catey in 2004.
“Nigel’s contribution to the industry has been through allowing his people to do the job in hand,” commented chef and restaurateur Paul Heathcote. “He has found the formula of finding good people and letting them excel.”
Nigel Platts-Martin took a bold risk with his chef-partners, who had both followed a somewhat unconventional career path, but it paid off handsomely. Howard had only been cooking for three years when he became head chef of The Square, had no formal training in catering, and had not even served as a sous chef.
Howard freely admits that the early days were chaotic. But Platts-Martin gave him a free hand – and some guidance on the merits of fixed menus – and by 1999 Howard had won two Michelin stars.
Poole had switched careers at the age of 25 and had been cooking for just five years when he was invited to head up Chez Bruce. Platts-Martin had enough faith in his talent to tempt him with a free rein and a stake in the business.
The chef-proprietors are now breeding their own stars. Anthony Boyd and Brett Graham won Michelin stars for the Glasshouse and the Ledbury while Ollie Couillard (former sous chef at The Square and now heading up Tom’s Kitchen), racked up three rosettes at La Trompette which were retained by his successor, James Bennington.
Platts-Martin appears incapable of putting a foot wrong. “Nigel is a relentless perfectionist who is able to maintain a clear vision of what we are trying to achieve and how and with whom we should achieve it,” explained Howard.
This year’s Harden’s London restaurant guide reckoned that the “sheer consistency” of Platts-Martin’s “stunning portfolio of restaurants” was unmatched even by Gordon Ramsay.
Its readers agreed, voting Chez Bruce their favourite haunt for the second year running and Poole the second best chef in London (after Ramsay).
The restaurants have proved so financially successful that Platts-Martin has funded the opening of new venues through cash-flow, not bank borrowings.
Nigel Platts-Martin – Further information