Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Brett Graham, the Ledbury and the Harwood Arms

06 December 2012
Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Brett Graham, the Ledbury and the Harwood Arms

Overall ranking: 44 (ranked 79 in 2011)
Chef ranking: 10 (ranked 26 in 2011)

Brett Graham - Snapshot
Brett Graham is the chef-patron of two-Michelin-starred London restaurant the Ledbury. He also co-owns Michelin-starred pub the Harwood Arms in Fulham and in 2011 won the prestigious Chef Award at the Cateys.

Brett Graham - Career guide Graham was born in 1979 in Newcastle, New South Wales, and grew up on his grandfather's farm. His first job was an apprenticeship at a local fish restaurant called Scratchleys before he moved to Sydney at the age of 18 to take up a job with Irish chef Liam Tomlins at his restaurant Banc. His big break arrived when he won Australia's coveted Josephine Pignolet cookery award as Sydney's best young chef, and the prize of a flight to London brought him to the UK in 2000. He secured a job at the Square under Phil Howard and stayed there for three-and-a-half years, during which time he gained further recognition by winning the Restaurant Association's Young Chef of the Year title.

In 2005, aged just 26, Howard and business partner Nigel Platts-Martin gave Graham the opportunity to open his own restaurant, the Ledbury in Notting Hill. After opening to rave reviews, the site gained its first Michelin star within a year, and added a second in 2010. The site topped the Sunday Times Food List in 2011 and currently sits in 10th position in the Good Food Guide's Top 50 UK Restaurants with a score of 8/10.

In late 2008 Graham opened Fulham gastropub the Harwood Arms with TV chef Mike Robinson and publican Edwin Vaux. It opened to wide acclaim and, in 2010, became the first London pub to win a Michelin star.

These remarkable achievements were recognised by his industry peers when, in 2011, he became the 28th recipient of the Chef Award at the 2011 Cateys.

Brett Graham - What we think Graham's meteoric rise to the upper echelons of the London dining scene has as much to do with his natural talent in the kitchen as to the assured guidance of mentors such as Phil Howard.

To get through the pressures of opening a fine-dining restaurant aged 26, only five years after arriving in the country, he needed reserves of power as well as all the advice he could absorb from Howard's and Platts-Martin's lengthy experience.

"It was incredibly tough, both physically and mentally. Never having been a head chef before and suddenly having the responsibility of running a restaurant was very hard. What I found the most difficult was that people are so quick to knock you. Of five great reviews and one bad one, you only remember the bad one, and I took that quite hard because I felt like we were failing," Graham told Caterer and Hotelkeeper in early 2010.

Under the steady eyes of Howard and Platts-Martin, Graham grew into the role, and quickly paid back much of the faith shown in him by earning a Michelin star within a year of the Ledbury opening.

Graham's modern French cuisine adheres to the same strict values of seasonality as his mentor Howard's and is rooted in classical principles, with just the odd progressive technique or exotic ingredient.

Despite being tipped as a second star rising in the 2009 Michelin guide, Graham was nevertheless shocked to be immediately promoted to two full stars the following year: "It was amazing that we got to rising two-stars, and I thought that this was our limit and that we'd sit there for a few years," he told Caterer and Hotelkeeper.

Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100 2011: Brett Graham, the Ledbury and the Harwood Arms >>

Cateys 2011: Chef Award - Brett Graham >>

Brett Graham tops Sunday Times Food List >>

Aussie rules: Interview with two-Michelin starred chef Brett Graham >>

Brett Graham's Ledbury tops All In London restaurant list >>

The Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email

Start the working day with The Caterer’s free breakfast briefing email

Sign Up and manage your preferences below

Check mark icon
Thank you

You have successfully signed up for the Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email and will hear from us soon!

Jacobs Media is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.


Ad Blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an adblocker and – although we support freedom of choice – we would like to ask you to enable ads on our site. They are an important revenue source which supports free access of our website's content, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

trade tracker pixel tracking