Matthew Harris, who has been head chef of London's Bibendum for 18 years, tells Neil Gerrard about the recent improvements and changes at the restaurant
What changes have you made at Bibendum? We have a big forecourt in the building that was getting very cluttered. We decided that the best thing was to try and make it cleaner and more open. We redesigned it so it is far more obvious what is going on inside and what is available. In the redesign we have got ovens and hobs, so we can do a vast array of hot food.
Did you have much input to make sure you got what you wanted? Absolutely. I had a good think about what I wanted to offer and then designed the kitchen around that with the architects and the kitchen design team.
You have devised a new all-day menu as well. What is the style and what are the highlights?
We have got a lunchtime roast which changes every day, and a little section of pizzettas, tartes flambées and a few pasta dishes. We also have a nice lamb curry, roast quails and boudin noir, so there are things for the meat eater that we couldn't offer before.
And you are doing breakfasts for the first time in the oyster bar, too.
That's right, breakfast is available from 8am until 11am and will offer the sort of things you would expect. There seems to be the demand for it. We are there anyway, and it makes the building look busy from first thing in the morning.
You have been working at Bibendum for 26 years and have been head chef for 18 years. How have things changed in that time?
The restaurant scene in London has changed a lot - there are a lot more restaurants. The produce has improved over the years, so your range of offerings can be far more diverse. The set-up of the restaurant hasn't changed, and neither has the desire to serve great food, simply done with passion and, hopefully, a bit of flair.
Several other members of staff have been there for a similar length of time. Why do you think it is that people stay working at Bibendum for so long?
The others are generally on the front of house side, but they get on well with each other and enjoy working together. They are professional and are just happy doing a really good job.