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Caterersearch.com 100: Chris and Jeff Galvin

01 July 2010
Caterersearch.com 100: Chris and Jeff Galvin

Overall ranking: 37

Chef ranking: 9

Chris and Jeff Galvin - Snapshot

Before teaming up in 2005 to launch their first joint solo venture, the hotly anticipated Galvin Bistro De Luxe in Marylebone, between them the Galvin brothers had worked in some of London's most iconic restaurants. Since joining forces for the subsequently acclaimed Baker Street venture, Chris and his younger brother Jeff have steadily grown their small London restaurant group, which now includes Galvin at Windows in the London Hilton on Park Lane hotel - which achieved a Michelin star in the 2010 Red Guide - and La Chapelle and Café à Vin in Spital Square.

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 potwasher 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 to the brigade at Inigo Jones. Years later he would be reunited with both these former mentors, joining Worrall Thompson in New York as head chef at Ménage à 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. His cooking at Orrery, where he worked for many years, saw him achieve a Michelin star 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, AA London Restaurant of the Year and inclusion in Restaurant magazine's 50 Best Restaurants in the World for two consecutive years.

Influenced by his elder brother, Jeff started his career at the same small neighbourhood restaurant where Chris once washed the pots for Antony Worral Thompson. After completing 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. The brothers employed the help of their family to run the venture. In 2010 Café de Luxe changed its name to Café à Vin, with a focus on natural wines, and La Chapelle was named Restaurant of the Year at the Tatler Restaurant Awards.

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. Renowned for his mentoring skills, Chris's close work with chef André Garrett and his team at Galvin at Windows, which has included taking them on several research trips to France, was finally acknowledged by Michelin in 2010, when it awarded the 98-seat fine-dining restaurant a star.

Not averse to taking risks - the brothers dipped into their own savings and borrowed up to the hilt to fund Bistrot de Luxe - Chris and Jeff spent two years and a considerable amount of money developing La Chapelle, their most ambitious and costly project to date, which opened in the City at the end of 2009. 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 - Giles Coren had his wedding there - winning Tatler's Best Restaurant title in 2010. Despite their achievements, the brothers have managed to dodge the "celebrity chef" tag and retain their integrity, perhaps something to do with the family-run nature of their businesses. When they launched La Chapelle, enlisting the help of other brother David, Chris's son Emile and wife, Sara, Chris said: "It was vital to get my family involved, because with two restaurants already it's going to be hard work and we wanted to retain that personal integrity of really looking after people."

In May 2010 the brothers relaunched Café de Luxe as Café à Vin, marking a new direction for the informal side of the operation, which now offers a wine list promoting organically grown, natural and biodynamic wines and reflects their interest in the subversive French independent wine movement. Their work for their charity Galvin's Chance - a programme devised to help disadvantaged people aged 18-24 who are not in education, employment or formal training - includes an annual run around Hyde Park and up the stairs at the Hilton Tower.

Chris and Jeff Galvin - Further information

Launch date and team finally announced for Galvin La Chapelle >>

Family ties >>

Galvin at Windows runs live online tasting in UK industry first >>

Galvin Restaurants >>

Read more about the Caterersearch.com 100, the list of the most influential people here >>

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