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The Caterer

Bruce Poole

12 May 2005
Bruce Poole

Overall ranking: 93

Chef ranking: 17

Snapshot

Bruce Poole is the head chef of the Michelin-star Chez Bruce in London, which he co-owns with Nigel Platts-Martin along with the Michelin-starred Glasshouse in Kew and La Trompette in Chiswick.

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.

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 had gone pear-shaped 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.

Chez Bruce has gained a reputation as a friendly and relaxed place to eat and the food is simple, relatively quick to cook and full of flavour.

Poole has a refreshingly 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 their 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.

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, headed by The Square's former sous chef Ollie Couillaud. His traditional French cuisine earned the restaurant three AA rosettes.

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