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OLLIE DABBOUS B


Dabbous proves to be thoughtful in his responses. He looks almost embarrassed when I ask what it was like to receive such glowing reviews, from the critics who can easily sink a newly-opened restaurant with a few caustic words. “Obviously, first of all, I was very


flattered,” he says. “Ultimately you have your own standards, so irrespective of what people say about me, I judge myself and I’m very harsh. So yes, it was lovely hearing all the nice things they said,


“We rapidly had to grow to meet the demand and to evolve to meet the standards I wanted to achieve”


O


llie Dabbous is a hard subject to track down for an interview.


He’s a man, one suspects, not entirely comfortable in the public eye. It’s tricky when your first restaurant Dabbous opens (in January 2012) and the UK’s foremost food writers – Fay Maschler, Giles Coren, AA Gill and Jay Rayner among them – all proclaim it to be one of the dining destinations in the capital and its chef the hottest new thing in British food. A Michelin star followed later that year and the reservation book began to chalk up bookings months in the future,


while Dabbous was invited to cook alongside two of the world’s leading chefs Brett Graham and Thomas Keller for the prime minister at 10 Downing Street for a 2012 VisitBritain event. For most young chefs, these moments would have been seized upon, the PR machine kicking in, grabbing all media opportunities. Dabbous, however, is much more


considered. He’s clearly not in the game for the adulation. We finally get to meet at Oskar’s Bar, named after his business partner, mixologist Oskar Kinberg, underneath their Fitzrovia restaurant.


because we set up on a shoestring.” Previously, 33-year-old Dabbous was head chef at London’s Texture. Before that experiences in the kitchens of a trattoria in Florence and with top chefs Rowley Leigh, Guy Savoy and Raymond Blanc may have honed his talents in the kitchen, but his reputation outside of those culinary institutions remained low-key – a potential problem when going it alone with a restaurant that bears your name. “Our goal was just to be open by the end of the year,” he says. “No one had heard of me, I’d never bothered with PR or pursuing any personal profile. It was just a case of giving myself the tools I felt I needed to run my own business. I felt exposed in that I had limited resources, limited staff, and we rapidly had to grow to meet the demand and to evolve to meet the standards I wanted to achieve.”


Quality on the plate Winning a Michelin star within the first year will have shocked nobody that has eaten at Dabbous, but the owners were thrilled nonetheless. “I was surprised and grateful. Grateful because, [Michelin]


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