Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Chris and Jeff Galvin, Galvin Bistro de Luxe, Galvin at Windows, Galvin La Chapelle

06 December 2012
Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Chris and Jeff Galvin, Galvin Bistro de Luxe, Galvin at Windows, Galvin La Chapelle

Overall ranking: 32 (ranked 38 in 2011)
Chef ranking: 7 (ranked 9 in 2011)

Brothers Chris and Jeff Galvin are the chef-patrons behind five London restaurants: the Michelin-starred Galvin at Windows in the London Hilton on Park Lane hotel, Galvin Bistrot De Luxe in Marylebone, Galvin La Chapelle and Café Á Vin in Spital Square, and Galvin Demoiselle at Harrods in Knightsbridge. In autumn 2012 they also launched their first ventures outside London; the Pompadour by Galvin restaurant and Galvin Brasserie de Luxe, both at Edinburgh's Caledonian Hilton hotel.

Chris and Jeff Galvin - Career guide
Inspired by his grandmother's cooking, Essex-boy Chris Galvin, who was born in 1958, started his career in kitchens as a pot-washer in a neighbourhood restaurant owned by Antony Worrall Thompson. This led to a job at the Ritz hotel in London as a young commis under the direction of Michael Quinn. He was spotted by chef Paul Gayler and taken into the brigade at the latter's Inigo Jones, widely regarded at the time as one of the capital's hottest eating tickets. Years later he would be reunited with both these former mentors, joining Worrall Thompson in New York as head chef of Ménage Á Trois in 1986, and Gayler at the Lanesborough hotel as executive sous chef in 1991.

In 1997, Chris joined Conran Restaurants, working directly with Sir Terence Conran for 10 years, opening restaurants Mezzo and Bluebird and becoming co-founder of Almeida. But it was his cooking at Orrery, where he worked at the stove for many years, which raised his profile when he achieved a Michelin star for the restaurant in 2000. In 2003, Chris was hired by Jeremy King and Chris Corbin to open the now-iconic Wolseley restaurant, where he established the revered Wolseley breakfast. The restaurant went on to earn numerous accolades, including Time Out Restaurant of the Year, and AA London Restaurant of the Year.
Influenced by his elder brother, Jeff started his career at the same small neighbourhood restaurant where Chris once washed the pots for Worrall Thompson. After completing training at catering college, he joined the Savoy hotel as a young commis under the direction of Anton Edelmann before progressing to the role of junior sous chef at David Levin's Michelin-starred Capital hotel under Philip Britten.

In 1994 he became sous chef at Chez Nico under Nico Ladenis and was part of the kitchen brigade that achieved a third Michelin star for that restaurant. He joined Chris for the opening of Orrery in Marylebone in 1997 before being reunited with Levin as head chef at the Greenhouse restaurant in Mayfair. Jeff's Michelin-starred experience led to his appointment at Marco Pierre White's three-Michelin-starred Oak Room, where he was head chef under the direction of Robert Reid, and in May 2000 White appointed him executive chef at L'Escargot, which held a Michelin star for five years.

In 2005 the brothers teamed up to open their first solo venture, Galvin Bistrot de Luxe in Baker Street. In May 2006 Chris entered into partnership with Hilton to become chef-patron of Galvin at Windows on the 28th floor of the London Hilton on Park Lane hotel, with André Garrett (ex-Orrery) in place as head chef. In 2010 Galvin at Windows gained its first Michelin star.

November 2009 saw the brothers launch their most ambitious project to date: the fine-dining La Chapelle and the more informal Café de Luxe under one roof in a listed building in Spital Square. In 2010 Café de Luxe changed its name to Café Á Vin, with a focus on natural wines, and La Chapelle was named Restaurant of the Year at the 2010 Tatler Restaurant Awards and gained a Bib Gourmand from Michelin in 2011. Further ventures followed in 2012: Galvin Demoiselle at Harrods in March: and two new restaurants - the fine-dining Pompadour by Galvin and the more casual Galvin Brasserie de Luxe - within Hilton's Caledonian hotel in Edinburgh, in the autumn.

In 2011 their first cookbook, Galvin: a Cookbook de Luxe was published. And over the years they have won numerous awards, including two Cateys. The first, in 2006, for Galvin Bistrot de Luxe - which was voted Newcomer of the Year: the second, in 2010, saw the brothers awarded the Independent Restaurateur of the Year accolade.

Chris and Jeff Galvin - What we think
The Galvin brothers are one of the most respected partnerships in the industry, known and liked among their peers and the critics, and responsible for some of London's most well-received French restaurants. Both are chefs of exceptional calibre - Chris is one of a select band of chefs to hold a BSc degree in international culinary arts - with backgrounds in Michelin-starred kitchens. What sets them apart is their passion for the restaurants and culinary culture of France. When they launched their first joint independent venture, Galvin Bistrot de Luxe, they sought to emulate France's "bistrot moderne" movement - with its buzzy atmosphere, unfussy dishes and accessible prices - rather than court Michelin inspectors, and they gained wide acclaim for doing so. Not to mention many imitators.

Not averse to taking risks, the brothers dipped in to their own savings and borrowed up to the hilt to fund Bistrot de Luxe, then repeated the exercise in order to launch Galvin La Chapelle and its sister venture Café de Luxe, after a two-year development lead-in. Encompassing both a fine-dining restaurant and more casual bistro/café, the project received a handful of average reviews but proved a hit with the majority of restaurant critics - The Times' Giles Coren had his wedding there.
The brothers are also enthusiastic supporters of charity initiatives, both inside and outside of the hospitality industry, regularly taking part in the annual Look Who's Cooking Dinner/Leuka gala dinners and setting up their own training project in conjunction with Galvin at Windows' manager, Fred Siriex in 2009. Called Galvin's Chance, it helps disadvantaged and at risk young people aged 18-24 who are not in education, employment or formal training (NEETs) to forge a career in front-of-house hospitality and fund raising schemes for the programme include an annual run around Hyde Park and up the stairs at the Hilton Tower.

The Galvin's have also set up an annual mixology competition, the Galvin Cup.
Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Chris and Jeff Galvin, Galvin Bistrot de Luxe >>

The Galvins take on Edinburgh >>
Chris and Jeff Galvin to open two restaurants in Edinburgh >>

Video interview with Jeff Galvin, Galvin La Chapelle >>

Menuwatch: La Chapelle >>

Galvin restaurants website >>

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