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Top 100: Claude Bosi, Bibendum and the Swan Inn

19 April 2018 by

Overall ranking: 58 (67 in 2012)

Chef ranking: 12 (18 in 2012)

Snapshot

Claude Bosi relaunched Sir Terence Conran's Bibendum in Fulham, London, in April 2017 and within a few months had scooped two Michelin stars. It's the first such accolade in the 30-year history of the landmark restaurant, which is located in the former Michelin HQ building. French-born Bosi, 45, moved to the UK in 1998 to work as a sous chef at Overton Grange near Ludlow, Shropshire. By the end of the year, he was head chef and had scooped a third AA rosette. The following January the restaurant picked up a Michelin star, aged just 26.

In 2000, he and his then wife, Claire, opened Hibiscus in the town, winning a Michelin star nine months later and a second in 2004. The pair relocated the restaurant to London's Mayfair in 2007 and Bosi sold it in 2016. Bosi also runs the Swan Inn near Esher with his brother, Cedric, which they reopened in 2016 after extensive refurbishment as a 55-cover gastropub with luxurious rooms.

The pair have run other pubs in the past, including the Fox & Grapes in Wimbledon and the Malt House in Fulham. They also co-own the boutique Townhouse hotel and Church Inn, both in Ludlow, while Cedric and his wife are sole owners of the Charlton Arms, also in Ludlow.

What we think

Born in Lyon in 1972, Bosi developed a passion for cooking at his parents' bistro. After graduating from catering college, he worked in Paris with legendary chefs Alain Passard and Alain Ducasse. At 25, he moved to the UK and settled in Ludlow, where he worked as sous and then head chef at Overton Grange, earning a Michelin star almost instantly.

Bosi and his former wife Claire then opened their own restaurant in Ludlow, called Hibiscus, which subsequently gained two Michelin stars. They surprised the industry by moving the restaurant to Mayfair, in 2007, and surprised everybody once again by selling up 2016.

Speaking to The Caterer last year, Bosi said: "My rent was going up from £185,000 to £250,000, but the business rates were going up even further, by a rumoured 100%. We were looking at around £400,000 that we would need to pay out every year. We could have just about afforded it, but I talked to my wife, Lucy, about whether it was really worth it. We found someone who made us a good offer, so we thought, why not? We can start again. I've done it before, so why not again?"

Bosi was then approached about some consultancy work at Bibendum, but Conran talked him into a permanent position as head chef. "We decided to get even more involved, so we bought some shares, using the money from the sale of Hibiscus," he explained.

Bosi's direct and balanced style is viewed as ground-breaking. His cooking combines classical French skills with modern trends, in an evolutionary rather than revolutionary way. He has also demonstrated high standards in his kitchen.

For instance, following the relocation of Hibiscus to London in 2007, it dropped down to one star but swiftly regained its two-star status in 2009.

And it's not just Michelin stars that have come Bosi's way. His former gastropub the Fox & Grapes in Wimbledon, which he ran with his brother, won the Menu of the Year Catey in 2011 for its traditional British food. And in 2012, Bosi became one of just eight Relais & Châteaux Grand Chefs in the UK.

In bringing Bosi in as head chef of Bibendum, Conran has said he is hoping to make the restaurant "virile for the next 30 years". It looks like a good call. Not only has Bosi earned it two Michelin stars, but Bibendum is listed ninth in the Good Food Guide's Top 50 Restaurants of 2018.

The partnership at Bibendum has involved Bosi putting "every last penny" he made at Hibiscus into the new venture. It's not just his balance of business and culinary flair that earns him a place in the Top 100, but the confidence with which he keeps moving upwards and onwards.

Further information

Michelin men: Claude Bosi on the reopening of Sir Terence Conran's Bibendum >>

Claude and Cedric Bosi to open Surrey pub >>

Tasting menus: the end of an era? >>

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