Luca Mathiszig-Lee, partner and manager, the 3 Crowns, and Hill & Szrok master butcher & Cookshop
How did you find your way into the hospitality industry?
I got a part-time job at the Eagle gastropub in Farringdon, London when I was 17, just for a bit of money, and ended up staying there for about six years. I developed a real passion for the industry and learned my trade under the tutelage of one of the owners, Michael Belben, who was very inspiring.
Did anyone try to put you off?
At school I wasn't very academic and some of teachers were a bit frustrated with me, but I love bumping into them now and telling them what I'm doing so they can see I wasn't a lost cause. I think I was always more suited to a hands-on environment, and it feels great that I have managed to find a niche that I love, which best uses my skills. I was never going to work in an office.
What are you doing now and how did you get there? After I left the Eagle I opened the 3 Crowns, a gastropub in Shoreditch, with Rohit Patkar and Lee Urch. I am now a partner and the licenceholder. It was my first solo project and I worked on it all: from the inception to all aspects of the design, planning and licensing, right through to launch. I'm very familiar with the restaurant and retail trade in London, and am very aware of the fashions and fickle vulnerabilities of some operations and the success and longevity of others. My latest venture, Hill & Szrok Master Butcher & Cookshop in Broadway Market in London, was born out of an idea I had a few years ago. I felt there was scope to maximise the potential of a butcher's site, so I thought why not open it in the evening as a restaurant? That way you have the butchers providing the meat for the dishes served in the evening, and you are able to keep costs down without cutting the quality of the meat. I now spend my time between the two establishments.
Did you know right away this industry was for you?
No. I left the Eagle a few times to do various jobs in advertising and fashion and I also went to art school, but I always ended up going back. I remember having lunch with Michael one day and he really encouraged me to stick with a career in hospitality and that gave me the boost I needed. A short while later he offered me the manager's job at the Eagle, making me the youngest ever manager to be appointed there.
Have you had a mentor along the way?
What's the most rewarding day you've had in your career?
The 3 Crowns took a lot of hard work, but I always had a vision for it, and even against the odds I persisted. So when the day came for us to open as a proper venue
I knew it had all been worth it. I have also learned a lot from Tom-Richardson Hill, our butcher at Hill & Szrok. He has taught me how to break down carcasses and, even though I still have a long way to go to match him, I'm lucky to be able to learn from him - he's inspiring me.
What has your hospitality salary allowed you to do?
I usually spend all my money on eating out. London has so many restaurants that it's hard to keep up, but eating out means I get to enjoy myself while also seeing what other restaurants are doing and I can get my inspiration that way.
2013 Opened the 3 Crowns Public House & Kitchen, Shoreditch, London
2014 Opened Hill & Szrok Master Butcher and Cookshop, Hackney, London