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CHRIS GALVIN


When the Bistrot de Luxe opened its doors a decade ago, its distinctive French menu was famously well-received by critics. “It was incredible,” Galvin smiles. “I think Caterer and Hotelkeeper Magazine wrote the most column inches ever, at the time, on a restaurant. So there was a lot of goodwill in the industry, that’s for sure.”


That goodwill is still very much in evidence. Having also since opened La Chapelle, Demoiselle and The Pompadour to name just three – all focusing on modern French haute cuisine, but varying in terms of menu, ambience and feel – today Galvin stresses the importance of having the right people. “Identify and look after the best people you can possibly find,” he urges.


Of course, Galvin didn’t have to look far for the ultimate working partner. Not everybody would team up with a sibling, but Chris and Jeff shared an ambition to own a restaurant. “Certainly from our early teens we always wanted to,” he says. “Over the years, often we were working in different restaurants and when we met up in the afternoon, in between our split shifts, we would sometimes grab a coffee and talk about doing it. We knew we probably never had any hope of doing it but yes, we always used to discuss it.”


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he brothers quickly established a natural flow. “There’s 12 years between us so we’ve got a huge amount of respect for


that works properly doesn’t break down, it’s easy to service and doesn’t let the chef down; that’s a retention tool.”


H


each other, both of us being successful in our own right. I’ve said quite a few times that we’ve never had a cross word. There’s compromise and that but we’ve always had integrity so we’ve never let something go; we’d always say if something wasn’t quite right. I just think we think a bit twin-like; we kind of think the same thing, so we’re normally on the same page with stuff.”


And the duo makes sure to prioritise family time, too. “When we opened La Chapelle, we’d close the restaurant at Christmas and Jeff and I used to go in and cook,” he recalls. And in a throwback to their early days in the kitchen, the brothers do the dishes too! “Our wives definitely married lucky,” he chuckles.


Galvin adds that an optimum working environment encourages a restaurant’s success. “The biggest cost for any business would be labour, so as a recruitment tool the kitchen has got to flow, to have big surface areas to work on – everything there for a reason. That attracts staff, and a kitchen


“You cannot design a kitchen without a chef. That would be madness”


e stresses how important it is for designers and chefs to collaborate. “You cannot design a kitchen without a chef,” he insists. “That would be madness. It’s got to be the right chef; you need someone experienced, someone who understands about work flow, who’s completely up to speed with technology and equipment. The other day someone asked me, ‘Why are there so many equipment shows?’ The problem is, to keep up with the development of different techniques and technology, we have to go to different shows. You’ve got to see and touch and feel these things. “It’s important to get a considered opinion on a kitchen that makes sense and isn’t too bespoke to one chef – unless it’s your Chef Patron who’s going to be there for 15 years. “And there’s Front of House too. You need to talk across the pass and you need to bring customers into a kitchen – they’ve got to be able to walk into the kitchen and have a look and be interested in what goes on. So there should be an area really where they can do that and it should be a comfortable working environment for everyone.” In an industry where reputation can make or break a business, Galvin acknowledges that retaining his Michelin stars is of both personal and professional importance. “Today we realise that they come as a consequence of doing things very well so they’re the Rolls-Royce of awards. There’s no denying that and it’s


what people will sit up and take notice of; it’s like a hallmark to have something like that but you must never, ever take it for granted. You must work extremely hard, make sure you’re sourcing things carefully, make sure you’re training carefully and above all, be consistent.” True to form, the Galvin restaurant portfolio is consistently high tier – and may expand further yet. “We learnt early on to never say never,” the restaurateur hints. “We’re constantly looking at different bits and pieces, but what we do know is a new restaurant’s got to be very special. And also we need to attract the right people; if we haven’t got the right people to do the right project, we wouldn’t do it.”


As Galvin Restaurants enjoy their 10-year anniversary then, their quest for perfection continues. “We’re always looking at new things, but we want to be among the best. Something that really interests us is something we do for the right reasons.”


For more go to foodserviceconsultant.org


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