Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Philip Howard, the Square

01 July 2011
Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Philip Howard, the Square

Overall ranking: 51 (ranked 43 in 2010)

Chef ranking: 15 (ranked 13 in 2010)

Philip Howard - Snapshot

Philip Howard is the head chef and co-owner, with Nigel Platts-Martin, of the two-Michelin-starred restaurant the Square in Mayfair, London. He also co-owns the two-Michelin-starred Ledbury restaurant in Notting Hill, with Platts-Martin and Brett Graham, and the one-starred Kitchen W8, in Kensington, with Rebecca Mascarenhas.

Philip Howard - Career guide

Born in 1967, Howard studied microbiology at Kent University, during which time he discovered his passion for cooking. After a summer of cooking in the Dordogne he enrolled on an apprenticeship with Roux Restaurants. Nine months later he left after landing a job at Marco Pierre White's Harvey's restaurant in Wandsworth, south-west London, co-owned by Nigel Platts-Martin, but Howard fell out with White after just nine months and the pair parted company.

A spell under Simon Hopkinson at Bibendum followed, where he worked alongside peers such as Bruce Poole and Jeremy Lee before patching up his relationship with White and returning to Harvey's. When Platts-Martin planned another site in St James's he asked Howard to be head chef, and the pair opened the Square in 1991. It gained its first Michelin star in 1994 and added a second a year after relocating to Mayfair, where it stands today.

In 2009 Howard added a third restaurant, Kitchen W8, to his portfolio, this time teaming up with restaurateur Rebecca Mascarenhas, owner of London neighbourhood restaurants Sonny's in Barnes - and the Phoenix in Putney, and with another former Square sous chef, Mark Kempson, in the kitchen. The site won its first Michelin star in January 2011.

In addition to winning the Chef Catey in 1998, Howard picked up the Special Award at the Craft Guild of Chefs Awards in June 2011.

Philip Howard - What we think

Howard remains one of the most widely respected chefs in the industry, and his calm, patient and intelligent approach to mentoring young chefs sets exemplary standards to the rest of hospitality. As his former sous chef Brett Graham puts it: "Phil is one of the very few true gentlemen in this trade. He is very respectful of his staff and always treated me like an equal. He never talked down to me and we formed a very special relationship."

Howard's background before taking over the Square, with no formal training, just a biochemistry degree under his belt and three years' experience in the kitchen - in which time he never held a sous chef position - helped form his intelligent, measured approach to cooking. His seasonal, intuitive French cuisine never overcomplicates dishes and he approaches cooking in a thoughtful, scientific manner, without any of the technological wizardry involved in molecular gastronomy.

Despite a chaotic start, when Howard fell into and - with the help of Platts-Martin - recovered from drug and alcohol addiction, the Square soon started to pick up awards. It was voted Best Newcomer by Time Out - in its first year and won its first Michelin star in 1994 and a second in 1998, the same year he picked up the Chef Catey.

His skills as a mentor have seen young charges such as Graham and Kempson thrive under his guidance, and he has been actively involved in nurturing young talent in this industry through events and competitions such as Young Chef Young Waiter, where he chaired the panel of chef judges for many years.

A chef's chef, he is most at home behind the stove and has rarely taken time out to appear on television or write cookbooks, leading Platts-Martin to comment once that the chef "turns down a dozen book deals a year".

Philip Howard's ranking in the 2010 100 >>

Chef revelations: Phil Howard >>

Philip Howard picks up Special Award at Craft Guild of Chefs Awards >>

Exclusive video interview: Michelin-starred Phil Howard on his battle with drugs >>

Phil Howard - the drugs don't work >>

The Square website >>

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 Group 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