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Hibiscus

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29 Maddox StreetW1S 2PA London
United Kingdom
T+44 2076292999

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    • Relais et Châteaux Guide

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    MTWTFSS
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    Chef's personal info

    Name: Claude  Bosi
    Date of birth: 01-01-1972
    Origin: France
    Experience:
    Michel Rostand Le Chiberta Alain Passard/L'Arpège/Paris Alain Ducasse/Plaza Athenée Raymond Point Carré/Paris Jean-Paul Lacombe 
     

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    Foodsnobblog.wordpress.com -
    Hibiscus, London

    Hibiscus, London

    In Lyon, many years ago, a boy was born whose parents owned a bistro serving classic Lyonnais cuisine. Once older, his love of cooking led him initially to assume an apprenticeship at Jean-Paul Lacombe’s Léon de Lyon (2*) before making the big, bold move to chérie Paris where he undertook a grand tour of some of Paris’ best kitchens learning from France’s finest chefs. He completed stints at Savoy’s Le Chiberta (1*), Point’s La Pyramide (2*), the eponymous restaurant of Michel Rostang (2*), (beloved) l’Arpege (3*) under legendary Alain Passard and finally with Alain Ducasse (3*). By 1997, he craved change and decided to travel the world, but wanting to learn English first, he came to England for what he thought would be just six months. Here, a recruitment agency set him up as a sous-chef at Overton Grange Hotel in the food-famous market town of Ludlow, Shropshire.

    Six months came and went, but Bosi remained; by 1999, he was head chef and had earned a Michelin star. During this time, he dined one night at the Merchant House, run by Shaun Hill, his wife and their assistant, Claire. Claude met Claire. They fell in love. In May 2000, Hibiscus was born. The pair formed a formidable duo: Bosi building a reputation as an original, talented chef and Claire commanding the front-of-house. Success followed success and after a single year, they were rewarded with a Michelin star; three years later, the men from Michelin returned to bestow a second.

    Seven years on, that infamous itch set in and the husband-wife team decided to scratch it; they uprooted their beloved Hibiscus and transplanted it to Mayfair. With them, they brought many of their loyal Ludlow staff; five of ten FOH members followed and now share an apartment together in Hammersmith. Backed by some loyal customers/City financiers, they appropriated a modern office building on one of Mayfair’s quieter streets and hired Davies & Baron (who won the contract by being the only approached design firm who bothered to travel to the Ludlow restaurant) to transform it into a sleek £1m 45-seat restaurant, which fondly resembles the original.

     

    The humble façade hints at the understated, modern interior where Claire’s partiality for natural materials is evident: inky black slate along one wall, banquette seating along another, rich wool carpets of mossy green, light oak panelling, thick white-linen-topped tables, custom amber cover plates from J.L. Coquet (luxury Limoges porcelain producers) and horn-handled Laguiole (suppliers to 3* Pic) knives at every sitting. The soft furnishings and elegant carpet are great for the room’s acoustics – there is no problem hearing or being heard across the table, even when the restaurant is full. At the room’s centre is a large serving island around which the waiting staff buzz and from where beverages are served. Upon the centre-table stands an eye-catching, bright sunflower arrangement and above it hangs a golden, plush chandelier. Among these classic touches is a modern sliding door between kitchen and dining area. The décor is simple and stylish, rustic yet refined, minimal but not stark; the diner is relaxed and not distracted from either their company or their food. Pastoral shades of brown, beige and yellow and gentle lighting add further comfort and though a small space, tables are generously spread, all making for a soothing, pleasant and intimate ambience.

    Chef Claude’s words, ‘I’m transferring Hibiscus, not starting a new restaurant. The idea is to continue and build on what I have been doing,’ are underscored by Hibiscus’ sustained links to Shropshire, which not only surface in the scenery, but in the sourcing of supplies, most of which still come from this area, including the venison, veal, pork and butter. Claude has also apparently leveraged contacts from his Paris days to garner some prominent purveyors, in particular Bernard Antony for cheese and Joel Thibault for vegetables.

    Dinner started with a small surprise; the Chef himself happened to be at the front door and greeted me. Although a bear of a man with a larger-than-life mien, he was friendly and welcoming. His personal charisma, the conviviality of the room and the friendly staff at once disarmed me and I took my seat feeling quite at ease. The simple menu – six starters, mains and desserts and a 7-course surprise tasting menu – was loaded with exciting ingredients including eel, pig’s trotter and tripe. Of course I opted for the tasting menu; what with 7-courses and each a surprise, how could I refuse?

    Amuse Bouche 1: Parmesan Gougères. A handmade earthenware pot filled with lighter-than-air, warm, choux-pastry parmesan puffs partnered my perusal of the menu – in truth, they actually completely distracted me from it! So simple, but so scrumptious, these delectable and delicate nibbles were heavenly; crisp, crumbly coats concealed moist, molten middles of creamy cheese. Each morsel melted away immediately in the mouth. These gorgeous golden gougères were utterly moreish and left me licking the thin filmy rich residue from off my fingers and lips. For the record, these precious Burgundian bites far excelled those currently offered by Bosi’s former boss at The Dorchester.

    Amuse Bouche 2: Soda of Pineapple & Cucumber, with Smoked Olive Oil and Black Pepper. A second small amuse/palate cleanser followed: a miniature glass goblet of algae-green carbonated pineapple and cucumber juice, within which rested a petite puddle of smoked olive oil and ground black pepper on floating thick white foam. This amuse failed to bring a smile to my lips; the fizzy potion, which I was instructed should be taken as a shot – surprising, given its size – was utterly unremarkable. Only the cucumber’s taste distinguished itself up until the final sweet slurp of pineapple sediment at the bottom. Apparently, the pineapple juice was encased in spherical skins, but this was lost on me as I downed the gassy brew. The smoked olive oil and pepper flavours went unnoticed and forgotten, just as the amuse itself would have been, had it not been for the redolent cucumber-bubble reminders that resurfaced from my tummy and out ma bouche (c’est-à-dire, des éructations) until the first course had come and gone.

    Les Pains: Country Brown. Thick slices of homemade wholemeal bread were brought out in a charming oak-crafted box alongside a slab of salty Shropshire butter served on an onyx tile of slate. Initially, the single variety on offer suggested that the kitchen may have neglected this essential facet of the meal; not so. This warm country brown was delicious. A rough, rustic crust encircled the softest, fluffiest centre. The butter, from a 100-strong herd of Jersey cattle tended by someone Chef Claude refers to only as ‘Morris the Butter Man’, glowed a seductive (now before you judge me, please look at the picture) submarine yellow and absolutely begged to be spread.

    Entrée 1: Ravioli of White Onion & Cinnamon, Welsh Meadowsweet & Onion Purée, Roast Cévenne Onion. A soft ravioli, filled with white onion and spiced with cinnamon, lay in a shallow warm butter bath, within which spherified ovules of onion and meadowsweet purée floated. The dish was garnished with Granny Smith julienne, violet-red pineapple sage leaves and the roasted skin of a Cévenne onion. This was a simple, delicate plate with a mild, gentle flavour, made from fresh ingredients and allowing the Chef to show off some more advanced abilities from his gamut of culinary capabilities. The ravioli, so soft and fragile it barely existed, comprised a delightfully sweet, warm combination of cinnamon and gently caramelised, shredded onion. This was only the first employment of the vegetable, it was also more impressively, though less successfully flavour-wise, mixed with the mildly nutty meadowsweet in a spherified purée. Though the skill was admired, these bursting bubbles were rather anticlimactic as their meek taste resulted in none of the explosive flavour one would expect. Finally, the Cévenne was utilised roasted, giving a crispy textural contrast along with the crunchy, fresh-cut green apple, whose subtle acidity complemented the sweetness of the ravioli. The decorative leaves, whilst pretty, also emitted the soft and pleasing odour of pineapple.

    Entrée 2: Brixham Spider Crab & Fresh Almonds wrapped in Charentais Melon, Almond Purée, Sweet & Sour Melon Sorbet. A cannelloni stuffed with the white crabmeat and chopped almond was encased in a wafer-thin Charentais melon feuille studied with brown breadcrumbs and bits of more almond. A thick, milky purée of even more almonds and a sorbet of more melon filled out the plate. The Devon shellfish tasted fresh, soft and sea-sweet and was well-paired with the still sweeter cantaloupe. The nutty mousse helped subdue this sweetness, but more markedly, offered textural variation with the almond halves, crumbs and chopped pieces that together with firm garden leaves, all added a pleasing crunch to the smooth sorbet and creamy crab. The sorbet was refreshingly and surprisingly ice-cold and gave a further, third dimension of differing temperatures that contrasted nicely with the warm ‘sushi roll’.

    Entrée 3: Tartare of Line-caught Cornish Mackerel, English Strawberries & Celery, Wasabi & Honey Dressing. A delicate, fresh mackerel tartare, embedded with soft pine nuts, came topped with diced seasonal strawberries, celery and basil garnish and framed by comet-like splurges of Japanese horseradish and honey syrup. The strawberries acted as a gently acidic counterpoint to the oily fish, whilst the crunchy celery complemented its soft texture. The saccharine zing of the excellent dressing brought with it richness and intensity and though pleasingly powerful, did not overpower the milder mackerel.

    Plat Principal 1: Roast Cornish Cod, Mona Lisa Gnocchi, Summer Truffle, Scottish Girolles, Sage & Onion Purée, Lancashire Mead Sauce. A chunk of roasted cod was accompanied by petite potato gnocchi and rusty brown girolle mushrooms. The pristine white fish, cooked to flaky perfection, rested on a thick mead sauce, was wrapped in a crisp, golden orange crust and decked with a poppadom of air-dried fish skin. The creamy, but airy gnocchi and earthy mushrooms lay in a lighter sage and onion purée and were topped with sizable shavings of summer truffle. The tasty mead sauce, simultaneously slightly sweet and savoury, was the ideal complement to the naturally strong flavoured fish and salty richness of the dried skin whose force was further assuaged by the sweet onion and peppery sage and girolles. The dish also featured a stroke of lime gelée, whose deep sourness, added deeper flavour. Only the summer truffle failed to make an impact – however, I have already accepted that this summer’s truffles are simply tasteless.

    Additionally, being previously aware of Bosi’s penchant for playfulness (previous menus have included sausage rolls and john dory with gherkin), I started to speculate if this was in fact a humorous poke at British eating and a posh take on beer battered cod (fish in mead sauce) and Indian takeout, with the customary curry compliment of poppadom. Whether this symbolism was intended or just my imagination, the result was delicious!

    Plat Principal 2: Lamb Sweetbreads lightly oak smoked, Fresh Goat’s Cheese, Onion Fondue, Lettuce Velouté. This arrived with theatrical aplomb: I was first presented with a lidded roasting pot, fresh out the oven, and filled with oak hay and lamb sweetbreads, the glistening meat just visible through the thick white smoke that nearly veils one’s view inside the pot. After the lid is lifted however, the whole table is enveloped under this dense, intoxicating cloud with its warm, woody and musky odour that tantalises the taste buds and the senses. Once my mouth was suitably watered, the pot was whisked away for plating and the lamb finally served alongside a quenelle of melted onion and herbs; a smear of goat’s cheese tinged with sprinkles of powdered tamarillo and roasted brown breadcrumbs; and smoked olive oil, into which a verdant velouté of lettuce was poured tableside. Again my mind began to wonder – deconstructed kebab perhaps?

    The lamb had a deliciously deep, smoky barbecue flavour and though the meaty morsels did not melt in the mouth, they were indeed soft, tender and buttery. The homemade goat’s cheese, creamed lettuce and onion fondue, were all distinct and clear, although the lettuce tasted instead of spinach. The tamarillo powder – a South American tree tomato, tangy and mildly sweet, and comparable to kiwi, tomato or passion fruit – packed a punchy heat. A forkful of all these parts was smooth, crunchy and moist, with no single ingredient overwhelming the others; even the naturally dominant goat’s cheese was tamed, but again the smoked olive oil taste was completely lost.

    Plat Principal 3: Roast Goosnargh Duck Breast, Couscous of Purple Cauliflower, Roasted Romanesco, Lapsang Souchong scented English Cherries, Fresh Almond Butter. A thick cut of duck breast, roasted a fabulous hue of Tyrian purple, was dished with cauliflower prepared three ways – a couscous of purple cauliflower, purée of white cauliflower and roasted calabrese romanesco – a dense cherry and lapsang souchong paste and sticky almond butter gravy. The duck was gorgeous; tender and juicy with just the right amount of naughty warm fat and caramelised crisp skin. The amethyst coarse couscous was deep and pleasantly crunchy; the white cauliflower, smooth and earthy; and the al dente romanesco, sweet and nutty. The cherry-tea was intense and sexy, fruity and smoky. The almond butter was luxurious and clung to the roof of one’s mouth; it was like liquid peanut butter and – I know I am not imagining this – combined with the cherry, was a teasing reincarnation of the American classic, peanut butter and jelly. The gamey duck, sweet cherry and creamy butter combined brilliantly, releasing rich, dark, nutty and sharp fruit flavours.

    Pre-dessert: Sweet Tomato & Vanilla. The dessert teaser was a small glass cone of creamed sweet tomato skin, layered with vanilla syrup and held together with gelatine; frozen raspberry chips were speckled on top. The light and foamy tomato was indeed sweet, but subtly so; the vanilla, distinct and sugary, but not cloying; the iced raspberries melted in the mouth to release a soft bitter acidity, which was a nice counter to the tomato and vanilla.

    Dessert 1: Fine Cream Tart of Sweet English Peas & Moroccan Mint, Coconut & Sheep’s Milk Whey Sorbet. A tasty tart of peas and mint was paired with a sorbet, resting on pastry crumbs, made from the whey of sheep’s milk – the watery part of milk that separates from the curds during cheese making. The plate was decorated with a brittle and notably sticky tuile of coconut, fresh pea halves and flashes of pea purée. The inclusion of this classic English garden vegetable into a dessert, though immediately surprising and a little worrying, worked amazingly well and proved yummy. The sweet, earthy pea cream, infused with Moroccan mint, was encased in a perfect pastry that was solid, crumbly and rich. The sorbet, in contrast, was a little awkward for me; it was not actually sweet and I found it difficult to decide if I liked it or not. However, it did taste better when eaten together with the tart than when eaten independently. Although undecided over the sorbet, I really loved this dish; its taste and creative reworking of an everyday ingredient probably made this course my favourite – but the competition is close!

    Dessert 2: Coffee & Passionfruit Millefeuille, Vanilla Ice Cream, Passionfruit Gel & Mango. A pastry millefeuille, nestled on its side, was basted with a precisely patterned passion fruit and coffee whip and partnered by vanilla ice cream on a mango-cube-bed and a syrupy splash of more passion fruit. The sweet, fine pastry was light and crispy, whilst the mousse, velvety and pleasantly mild; the coffee was flavourful, but not bitter and the passion fruit punchy, but not overpowering. The distinctly tart gel refreshingly cut through this, but was in turn mollified by the milky ice cream and fresh, juicy mango.

    Dessert 3: Hibiscus ‘Tarte au Chocolat’, Indonesian Basil Ice Cream. I have learnt by now that fondants are generally always the same and always distinctly decent, yet somehow I still always order them! At least this time I had a good excuse – this is a Hibiscus signature dish thus it must be good. And it was. A dark fondant tart arrived with basil ice cream and garnished with basil leaves and sweet, crunchy tuile. As my spoon, breaking the cool, firm chocolate crust armour, gently slid in, hot, thick chocolate lava bled from the soft belly. The molten magma was soothed by a smooth ice cream suffused with a distinct and herby majestic basil flavour. This was excellently executed and reassuringly luxurious.

     

    Petit Fours et Café: Smoked sugar fudge; pure black ganache; milk chocolate with salty caramel; and white chocolate with lemon verbena cream. The espresso had a good, deep taste and came served with rock crystals of sugar. The petit fours, though not profuse, were all very good: white chocolate filled with zesty, warming lemon had a nice herb taste; the ganache was very dark and very intense with a lovely liquid centre; the milk chocolate, sweet and salty; and the fudge, creamy, thick and rich. Actually, I enjoyed the fudge so much I dared ask for more. I was readily obliged.

    Throughout the meal, service was impeccable, professional and friendly and the suave staff were polite, attentive and unobtrusive. All were well-informed and worked well collectively, evidence of the many years they have spent together no doubt. Claire, who demands a pleasant smile and affable disposition from all her team, was the consummate hostess and herself nice-as-pie. She effortlessly led the FOH which, even when full, provided swift and sociable service; brought courses in good and steady time; and ensured my glass and bread tray were never empty. A memorable incident involved the spillage of two glasses of wine in quick succession on the same table; this was dealt with an impressive effortlessness and lack of fuss by one of the waiters. Special praise also goes to the excellent sommelier, Simon Freeman, who was extremely knowledgeable about both the food and wine.

    The overriding theme tonight was what I have termed the ‘Bosi balance’; every ingredient, taste, texture and even temperature was thoroughly and intricately balanced and harmonised. However, this does not mean the food here is at all boring or bland – Croquettes of Lamb Sweetmeats, Tartare of Native Oyster with Sweet Corn & Thai Curry, Watercress Salad is surely anything but dull. Instead, the cuisine is genuinely interesting and refreshingly different, combining unfamiliar ingredients in unfamiliar ways; the menu is always full of imaginative dishes that one really wants to eat. Bosi though is not trying to shock for the sake of it; an immense level of focus and concentration has gone into creating and preparing each plate as well as evident precision, refinement and flawless technique. The kitchen is as resourceful and versatile as the restaurant’s flower namesake – Hibiscus is used in teas, shampoos, jams, medicines, to make grass skirts and paper and even as a religious offering in Hindu worship. The cooking could be described as experimental, but diners are never the guinea pigs; recipes have been tried and tested until perfect.

    I admire Bosi for his determination and readiness to challenge diners (even though he has maybe toned down the menu a little since first opening). I particularly love his willingness to reinvent classic dishes in witty ways such as foie gras ice cream and truffled sausage roll. These may sound silly, but the cookery here is very serious; technical perfection is standard, flavours are clean and distinct, ambitious and bold combinations are confident and Bosi’s ability to bring out the best from his vegetables is reminiscent of Passard.

    I truly enjoyed my whole experience here; each dish was good – a rare occurrence, especially given the tendency for such innovative cooking to blow hot and cold – and there was always some element on the plate that wowed me e.g. the cod and mead; cherry-tea and nut butter combo; or English pea tarte. I was also impressed by the Chef himself; first pleased to see him greeting guests late into dinner, something I always appreciate, I was then touched when, collecting my coat and about to leave, one of the staff informed me that if I was able to wait a moment, Claude wanted to say goodbye. We spoke briefly; he came across humble and relaxed (maybe this personality has led him to eschew TV appearances, explaining his relative lack of public fame), evinced by his personal remark to me that ‘it’s hard’ finding that ‘Bosi balance’ (of course he did not say Bosi balance himself) and more public comments when moving to London that he was ‘scared the expectation is too high’ and that he did not know if people would like what he and Claire were doing. Needless to say, any such fears/doubts have since been demolished.

    The atmosphere upon leaving this small slice of Shropshire was very warm with the staff individually wishing me goodnight – I seemed to have earned myself a note of notoriety after ordering three desserts! Claude and Claire were genuinely sweet and down to earth and there was a perceptible personal touch in all that they did; I felt a very real family-run restaurant vibe, which made me, in turn, feel very comfortable and as if I had been coming here for years. In fact, I already plan to come back very soon….and, for all those who enjoy corny endings, I think Hibiscus has taken root in my heart.

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    Best emerging Chefs and creators

    Best emerging Chefs and creators

    Chef Claude Bosi/Photo: Hibiscus Restaurant

    THE GAME-BRITISH & SCOTTISH CHEFS: CLAUDE BOSI 

    The Brits have been preparing for some time the after Gordon Ramsay and Marco Pierre White cuisine. Not that there is a british style but we can certainly say that the emerging chefs are pro-locavore and that they are sourcing the best products of the island of Albion. In the very cosmopolitan London, the influences of young chefs are many, which give them a unique culinary personality. I discovered Chefs with a very modern style, who are  mastering the techniques as well as the French roots, Claude Bosi being one of them. Brett Graham on the other hand combines terroir, flavors and creativity a very nice surprise! As a counterbalance to London, I will present you a great chef of Edinburgh in Scotland, Martin Wishart. He has a strong French influences that works wonders with the best products of the land and sea. 

    Born in Lyons (France), Claude Bosi moved to the UK in 1997. He learned his profession with the chefs Alain Passard and Michel Rostand. In 2000, he opened Hibiscus in the Shropshire (UK) and 7 years later he moved the restaurant to London. Presently, Hibiscus is one of the most acclaimed restaurants in England. Under the London’s drizzle hides the bright cuisine with The Passardien accents of Claude Bosi. Bosi is a craftsman that is respectful, thorough and who utilizes the best products in the market. Because of all that, he has earned a reputation both in England and abroad. He is already considered a great master in the kitchen and a worthy successor of Alain Passard (L’Arpège)

     

     

      

    Q+A WITH CLAUDE BOSI (www.hibiscusrestaurant.co.uk ): 

    1-(Scoffier) How do you explain the philosophy behind your cuisine and what is it main characteristics? 

    CBosi- I work as closely with the seasons as possible, and source as much as I can from local producers, mainly within the UK. 

    2-(Scoffier) I know that the chef Pascal Barbot (L’Astrance) take a lot of time choosing and picking his produces at the market. Do you spend as much of time to choose and pick your produces? 

    CBosi- I spend a great deal of time choosing my ingredients, and I am lucky enough to be able to draw on the knowledge of my fantastic suppliers, who I have been working with for ten years. 

    3-(Scoffier) Do you have a particular food (or products) that you often use in your recipes? 

    CBosi- The ingredients I use always depend on what season it is. 

    Squab Pigeon/Hibiscus Restaurant

     

    *Squab Pigeon: roast squab pigeon, roasted chervil root, potato, coriander & passion fruit puree, tamarillo confit in muscovado sugar 

    4-(Scoffier) Do you have a mentor (chefs or anybody else) that inspires you in your cuisine? 

    CBosi- I have been greatly inspired Alain Passard, and I worked with him for 2 ½ years. 

    5-(Scoffier) Do you have a particular flavour or taste from your childhood that is again memorable? 

    CBosi- My Grandmother’s Vegetables Jardiniere. I have tried, but I cannot re-create the dish! 

    6-(Scoffier) What do you eat when you are at home? 

    CBosi- I spend very little time at home. I am either at work, or eating out! My kitchen staples though, are some crusty white bread, cheese and salad. 

    7-(Scoffier) You participated at the Cook It Raw event (2009-2010) in Copenhagen and Collio initialized by René Redzepi (Noma). Are you also near of the nature and the local products that Redzepi and are you as strict in your recipes? Example: no olives oil etc. 

    CBosi- René Redzepi has an individual and particular ethos to his cooking, and I have my own.  We are both, however, passionate about sourcing the best local produce available. 

    Bosi+Chang,CIR2010/Photo: Per-Anders Jorgensen

     

    8-(Scoffier) I seen your menu and the vegetables are omnipresent. How do you create your tasting menu? Do you think vegetables in first and meat or fish after? 

    CBosi- The order I serve the tasting menu at Hibiscus is as follows: Raw, shellfish, vegetables, fish, offal, meat and then dessert, with the intention of building up the flavour at each stage.     

    11-(Scoffier) Can you give us a detailed recipe (Signature dish) that is characterized the cuisine of Claude Bosi? 

    CBosi- Please see the recipe for Carpaccio of Sea Bream 

    12-(Scoffier) What is your goal (ambitions) as a chef or for the restaurant? Do you think about write a book, a television show, others? 

    CBosi- My priority is to achieve a full restaurant for Lunch and Dinner, all year round. 

     

    RECIPE: Carpaccio of Sea Bream 

     

    Restaurant (interior)/Photo: www.hibiscusrestaurant.co.uk

     INGREDIENTS & PROGRESSION RECIPE 

    -1 Tin of 400ml Black Truffle Jus 

    -Chickens stock and liquice soft eating.  

    -20 cl Almond oil 

    -Splash sherry vinegar 

    -100 g Black radish 

    -2 Fillets of Sea Bream boned 

    (Stages 1 to 4 can be done in advance (up to two hours) of the meal.  Stage 5 can then be added before serving) 

    1. Put Truffle jus into saucepan, simmer slowly and reduce to consistency of syrup. 

    2. Slice bream as thin as possible by working knife horizontally along top of fish. 

    3. Thinly slice black radish using slot on cheese grater or on mandolin. 

    4. On a cold plate, layer fish and radish. Refrigerate.              

    5. Using a hand blender, blitz reduction of truffle jus and almond oil.  Add sherry vinegar to taste.  Do not add any salt or pepper to this dish as is not necessary. 

    6. Drizzle vinaigrette over fish & radish. Serve

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    TheGuardian.com - Claude Bosi
    Chlaude Bosi's Christmas Recipes

    Chlaude Bosi's Christmas Recipes

    Rye flour and meatball soup

    Rye flour and meatball soup Rye flour and meatball soup. Photograph: Jean Cazals

    I found this soup in Poland. I went with some friends in August to the north of the country, near the Russian border, and a family made it for us. It's a very traditional soup and I just loved it. I thought it would be perfect for Christmas because it's very warming – put a big bowl on the table and let people help themselves.

    Serves 6
    For the rye flour water
    rye flour 500g
    water 3 litres

    For the soup base
    carrot 1, diced into 1cm cubes
    onion 1, diced into 1cm cubes
    garlic clove 1, chopped
    boiling potatoes (eg Maris Piper) 2, diced into 1cm cubes
    fresh thyme 3 sprigs
    pork sausage meat 500g
    toasted rye flour 50g
    chicken stock 1.5 litres
    rye flour water 2 litres

    For the meatballs
    rye bread (no crust) 50g
    milk 50ml
    pork sausage meat 400g
    flour 50g
    olive oil and butter for frying
    fresh thyme 1 sprig

    For the garnish
    quail eggs 12
    rye bread 600g
    potatoes 2, peeled
    chicken stock 0.5 litre
    parsley ½ a bunch, chopped

    To make the rye flour water, blitz together the flour and water in a food processor and leave overnight to infuse. Pass through a sieve.

    To make the soup base, cut all the vegetables, the garlic and the thyme into a mirepoix [finely chopped mixture]. Sweat them down with the sausage meat until golden. Add the toasted rye flour, chicken stock and the rye flour water. Cook uncovered for 1 hour at a low heat until the vegetables are soft (you will lose around half a litre of liquid to evaporation). Pass through a sieve and set aside.

    To make the meatballs, soak the rye bread in the milk. Press to remove all the milk and then mix well with the sausage meat. Roll into 20g balls and coat with a little flour.

    Heat a frying pan over a medium heat, add some olive oil, butter and a sprig of thyme, and cook the meatballs until they are coloured completely (approximately 10 minutes).

    For the garnish, soft boil the quail eggs in boiling water for 2 minutes. Cool over ice. Peel the shells. To make the croutons, dice the rye bread and pan fry with butter until crispy and golden.

    Dice the potatoes into ½in pieces and cook in the chicken stock on a medium-low heat until slightly soft.

    Finish by adding the potato dice and meatballs to the soup (retain the stock or use to thin the soup if necessary). Sprinkle with the crispy croutons and soft-boiled quail eggs. Add chopped parsley and a drizzle of olive oil.

    Christmas turkey

    Christmas turkey Christmas turkey. Photograph: Jean Cazals

    Turkey has a bad name because it's cooked very poorly in lots of places, but it's fantastic if it's good quality and you treat it properly. Get a nice small one.

    Serves 6-8
    whole turkey 1, 4-5 kg
    chicken stock 1.5 litres
    melted butter for brushing

    For the brine
    water 5 litres
    table salt 300g
    rose salt 150g
    granulated sugar 150g

    For the mirepoix
    carrot 1, diced into 1cm cubes
    onion 1, diced into 1cm cubes
    sprig of thyme 1
    leek ½ diced into 1cm cubes
    clove garlic 1
    salted butter 150g

    For the stuffing
    chicken breast 300g
    whipping cream 300g
    minced pork 300g
    turkey offal (heart, liver, kidney) 150g, finely chopped
    vacuum-packed cooked chestnuts 135g, roughly chopped
    clear honey 3 tbsp
    salt and pepper
    sage ½ bunch, roughly chopped
    fresh white bread soaked in milk 4 slices

    For the vegetables
    Brussels sprouts 500g, prepared
    smoked bacon 200g, diced
    onion 150g, chopped
    fresh thyme 3 sprigs
    salted butter 50g
    fresh chestnuts 200g, roughly chopped

    For the roast potatoes
    King Edward potatoes 1.8kg
    duck fat 450g

    Christmas Eve
    To make the brine, boil the salt, rose salt and sugar in the water until dissolved. This will take a few minutes. Allow to cool.

    Remove the turkey giblets and place the turkey in a large container. Cover the turkey with the brine until completely submerged and leave for 4 hours. Rinse the bird thoroughly with water, pat dry with kitchen towel and leave to air-dry overnight.

    Peel and chop the potatoes and parboil until soft. Drain well, and set aside in the fridge.

    Christmas Day
    To make the stuffing, place the chicken breast and whipping cream into a food processor, blend to a smooth paste and set aside in the fridge. Take the remaining ingredients for the stuffing and place into a mixing bowl. Mix well, then add the chicken and cream paste to the bowl and mix together. Using a large metal spoon, stuff the turkey.

    Preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7. To cook the turkey, put all the ingredients from the mirepoix list into a roasting tray. Place the turkey on top of the vegetables and brush with a little melted butter. Put the bird into the preheated oven for 40 minutes, then add the chicken stock and reduce the temperature to 170C/gas mark 3. Cook for a further 3-3½ hours, depending on the size of the bird. Then give it a final 30 minutes at 200C/gas mark 6.

    To roast the potatoes, melt the duck fat in a second roasting tray in the oven 1 hour before the turkey is finished. When the fat is smoking, place the potatoes carefully on the tray, baste and sprinkle with salt. Cook until golden and crispy.

    To prepare the Brussels sprouts, blanch them in a pan of boiling salted water. Save two large ladles of the cooking water. In an oven tray, brown the bacon and onions and add the thyme. Place the sprouts into the bacon mixture and add the reserved cooking water and butter. Cover with foil and place in the oven; cook until the sprouts are soft. Just before serving, add fresh chestnuts, season with pepper and salt.

    Pigs in blankets

    Pigs in blankets, roast potatoes and vegetables Pigs in blankets, roast potatoes and vegetables. Photograph: Jean Cazals

    Sausages and bacon are a great complement to a turkey, served alongside the stuffing, roast potatoes and all the veg. My picture of a perfect Christmas dinner is somebody wearing a cheap paper crown and tucking into a big plate of food, piled high, with lots of gravy on it, and some cranberry sauce if they find space.

    Serves 6
    lightly smoked streaky bacon 9 slices
    small sausages, such as chipolatas 18

    Cut each rasher of bacon in half and run the back of a knife along the length of each piece to flatten and stretch them slightly – this stops them shrinking during cooking.

    Wrap one half-rasher of bacon around each sausage, making sure that the seal is underneath the bacon/sausage roll. Skewer with a cocktail stick if necessary. Cover them with cling film or place them in a sealed container and store them in the refrigerator until ready to cook.

    When ready, preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6 and cook for 25 minutes, or until the bacon is crisp. Set to one side and keep warm until needed. Serve with the roast turkey.

    Christmas pudding and brandy butter

    I don't make my own Christmas pudding because I don't have a good recipe. I don't want to find out it hasn't worked on Christmas Day! So it's fine to buy a good quality one from a shop – but it's very easy to make your own brandy butter.

    icing sugar 150g
    salted butter, softened 150g
    boiling water 50ml
    good French brandy 75ml

    Mix the sugar into the butter thoroughly, then stir in the water and brandy.

    Ham with honey and mustard

    Claude Bosi’s ham with honey and mustard Ham with honey and Mustard. Photograph: Jean Cazals

    This is very British. I had it for the first time when my mother-in-law cooked it. We eat ham on Boxing Day. When you come back from your long walk, you have a plate of cold meat, maybe a soup, and some turkey if you have any left. I would poach the ham in a broth for nearly two-thirds of the cooking time – if you cook it too long in the oven it goes dry.

    Serves 6-8
    unsmoked English gammon about 4kg
    black peppercorns 6
    cloves 6
    fresh thyme 15g
    fresh bay leaf 1, torn
    onion 1, cut into quarters
    Guinness 570ml
    bouquet garni 2
    English mustard 3 tbsp
    high quality clear honey 3 tbsp
    dark muscovado sugar 2 tbsp

    Put a saucer upside down in a large pan and place the gammon on the saucer to stop it from touching the hot base of the pan. Leave the string around the gammon to hold it together during cooking. Add the peppercorns, cloves, thyme, bay leaf, onion, 400ml of the stout, the bouquets garnis and enough cold water to cover the gammon. Place the lid on the pan and bring slowly to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes per 500g, adding more boiling water as necessary.

    At the end of the calculated cooking time, turn off the heat and allow the ham to cool in the cooking liquor for at least 30 minutes, or cool enough to handle. Transfer it to a board and pat dry with kitchen paper. Using a small, sharp knife, cut off the string, then peel away the skin, leaving a layer of fat.

    Cut a thin slice from the base of the ham, so the joint can stand without toppling over, then score the fat into a diamond pattern. Transfer to a roasting tin and heat oven to 200C/gas mark 6.

    Mix together the mustard, honey and sugar, then stir in enough of the remaining stout to thin the paste down to a pouring consistency. Pour the glaze over the ham, allowing it to run down into the tin. Spoon it over until the ham is thoroughly coated. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until evenly browned, basting every 10 minutes. Cover, and allow to cool.

    Bubble and squeak

    Bubble and squeak Bubble and squeak. Photograph: Jean Cazals

    Serves 6
    butter 80g
    onion 1 medium, finely chopped
    leftover mashed potato
    leftover vegetables cabbage, swede, carrots, peas, sprouts, finely chopped
    salt and freshly ground black pepper

    In a large frying pan melt the butter, add the chopped onion and fry gently for 3 minutes or until soft. Turn the heat up slightly and add the mashed potato and vegetables. Fry for 10 minutes, turning over in the melted butter two or three times to ensure the potato and vegetables are thoroughly reheated – you are aiming to brown the outside edges but not to burn the bubble and squeak. Press the potato mixture on to the base of the pan with a spatula and leave to cook for 1 minute. Flip over and repeat. Season to taste and serve.

    Alternatively mix the potato and vegetables and form into small patties, then fry in a bit of oil and butter.

    Chicken and leek pie

    Chicken and leek pie Chicken and leek pie. Photograph: Jean Cazals

    I made one of these recently for my niece's christening – I love them. Eat it warm on Boxing Day.

    Serves 6
    leeks 2
    butter 10g
    chicken breasts 4
    ready-made shortcrust pastry 500g ready rolled, 1 sheet
    egg 1, beaten

    For the bechamel sauce
    full-fat milk 500ml
    butter 25g
    flour 25g
    nutmeg a scant grating

    Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Prepare 500ml of bechamel sauce by bringing the milk to room temperature – do not use straight from the fridge. Melt butter in a saucepan, then add the flour to form a paste. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly to make sure there are no lumps. Grate the nutmeg over. Simmer very gently over a low heat for 10 minutes to cook out the flour and until the sauce is creamy.

    Chop the white parts of the leeks, keeping the pieces quite large so they have some texture; otherwise they will disappear in the sauce. Melt 10g butter in a frying pan and cook the leeks gently without colouring them, until they are softened and most of the liquid has evaporated.

    Cut each chicken breast into three. I keep the chicken quite chunky – I want it only half-cooked when I assemble the pie. Poach the chicken pieces for about 10 minutes in the sauce. Keep stirring. (The pie and chicken finish cooking in the oven.) Transfer chicken, bechamel and leek mix to a pie dish.

    Roll out the pastry, lay it over the dish and mould it around the side of the dish so it holds in place. It helps to glaze the edge of the dish with beaten egg beforehand to help it stick. Brush the pastry lid with egg wash. This will give it some colour in the oven. Don't trim the pastry because it will shrink in the oven, and if the pastry shrinks, the pie will leak. Put the pie straight into the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until it is golden brown on top.

    Orange sherry trifle

    Orange sherry trifle Orange sherry trifle. Photograph: Jean Cazals

    I love English puddings. Trifle is my favourite. It's the different layers, the different textures. It has to be boozy, too – maybe too boozy to give some to your daughter! I use the sherry that comes in a blue bottle… Harveys Bristol Cream. It's sharp and has good acidity.

    Serves 6
    For the sponge
    eggs 4
    sugar 125g
    flour 125g
    butter 25g, softened

    For the orange and sherry syrup
    fresh orange juice 200ml
    sherry 100ml
    sugar 50g

    For the orange jelly
    gelatin 2 leaves
    fresh orange juice 250ml
    sugar 50g

    For the sherry custard
    egg yolks 8
    sugar 125g
    cream 500ml
    vanilla pod 1
    cream-style sherry 150ml

    To serve
    oranges, segmented 4
    whipping cream 400g, whipped to soft peaks
    zest of an orange
    candied orange peel (or candied orange slices)

    To make the sponge, whisk eggs and sugar until stiff and fold in the flour and then the softened butter. Spread on to a lined baking tray and cook at 180C/gas mark 4 for 12 minutes.

    Make the syrup by warming all the ingredients until dissolved – do not boil!

    For the orange jelly, soak the gelatin in cold water until soft. Then bring the orange juice and sugar to the boil, add the gelatin and set aside.

    To make the custard, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together. Bring the cream to the boil with the split vanilla pod and infuse for 30 minutes. Remove the pod, then bring back to the boil. Whisk the cream into the egg and sugar mix, return to a low heat and cook until it has a thick consistency. Do not boil, otherwise you will get scrambled eggs! Add the sherry and leave to cool.

    To assemble the trifle, cut the sponge to fit into a round glass bowl and soak it with the syrup. Place the orange segments on top. Pour over just enough jelly to cover the segments and leave to set for approximately 45 minutes.

    When the jelly is set, pour over the sherry custard and leave to set for another hour. To finish, pipe on the whipped cream (or spread it if you do not have a piping bag), grate over the zest of 1 orange and garnish with the candied orange peel.

    TheGuardian.com - Claude Bosi

    Eater.com - Gabe Ulla
    Chef Claude Bosi on Hibiscus, Critics, and Responsibility

    Chef Claude Bosi on Hibiscus, Critics, and Responsibility

     

    claude-bosi-eater-national-interview.jpg 
    [Photo: Hibiscus]

    The Lyon-born chef Claude Bosi has cooked in some of the best French kitchens in the world, including those of Alain Ducasse and Alain Passard, but he's been making a mark on his own in England for over a decade. At his London restaurant Hibiscus, which first opened in Ludlow twelve years ago, Bosi continues to make French food, but in a way that reflects his city and his travels. He's earned two Michelin stars there and a reputation as one of the best chefs in Europe. In the following interview, he talks about his career, what he aims to do at his restaurant, and critics.

    Tell me about the path to Hibiscus.
    I opened Hibiscus twelve years ago. I went to catering in school in France before that and also did apprenticeships at various restaurants.

    What were the most important early cooking experiences?
    Definitely the ones with Alain Ducasse and Alain Passard.

    How was it with Passard? You were there when L'Arpège got three stars, right?
    Yes, it was incredible. Alain Passard is a genius on the stove, the way he thinks and he moves. The hardest part is learning how to follow him and his moves. It's intuitive and totally creative. I learned so much about the idea that cooking is not just about heat — it's about passion, seasonality, the way you move throughout the kitchen. It was incredible. With Ducasse it was similar but completely different. It was about excellence, getting the best products you could possibly find, luxury.

    Talk more about working with Passard in the kitchen.
    I wouldn't say he is crazy, but he's very, very passionate. That is what genius looks like. You need to spend time there and just learn what his vision is. Then it becomes magical. Those were some of the best years of my life at L'Arpège.

    And then when did Hibiscus happen?
    I opened Hibiscus in the countryside twelve years ago, but then I realized I wanted to move it. I didn't want to be in the countryside, so London was the best choice.

    A lot of chefs with gastronomic or Michelin-starred restaurants like being away from the city. Why did you choose to go to London?
    I love the countryside, but Ludlow, where I was, was made up of 8,000 people. I didn't exactly like the idea that I was seeing the same people all the time and that we were doing the same thing over and over. The city was more exciting. It was also very hard to get staff and have them motivated. A lot of them felt like they didn't have a life outside of the restaurant, so that's part of why I moved.

    How would you describe your food?
    My food is French, no question. I do a lot of traveling to see different styles and flavors, which influences my cooking, but I can't say enough that it is French. I'm not trying to be too modern, I'm just trying to be myself. It's hard enough, so you can't really try to be something that you are not and be successful, I think.

    I really don't feel there is that much of a difference between being in London or any other city. I feel, personally, that I could be anywhere in the world. We cook and feed people and can't take customers for granted.

    What else can you say about how you look at food and what you try to do?
    Seasonality is the principal thing for me. I can't stress that enough, even though a lot of people say that. There is a scallop dish we have here with pork pie sauce. That reflects my French technique and basis, but there is also a lot of in England there, too. The food reflects where I am and where I have been.

    Do you care about Michelin stars and the 50 Best List?
    I care about anybody that gives us an accolade. They are risking their reputation on us. If they are saying we have one of the best places in the country, that is a big risk. I respect it.

    Do you feel pressure to maintain or improve upon that?
    No, there's no pressure. I did nothing special to get it. I just got it doing what we were doing. You can't start worrying about whether you are going to lose it. It's a mess if you do that.

    You've been to several Cook It Raw events. How has that been for you?
    Yes, I've done every one of them. There's always been a community of chefs, but maybe this is different now. They are interested in getting together and talking about what they care about. No question for me: it is fantastic.

    How do you feel about people that criticize conferences and events like that?
    Why? Because maybe they are jealous? Because maybe they don't understand it? I think Cook It Raw, especially, is about going somewhere, using the local produce, and learning something. We just went to Poland. It was fantastic. If Cook It Raw hadn't gone there, I don't think a lot of people interested in food wouldn't really know about what was available there, what it was about. You just have to leave jealous people to just be jealous. It's so easy to criticize other people, but Andrea Petrini and Alessandro Porcelli [the organizers] are doing something very special. People are just jealous of them.

    I just interviewed Sat Bains, and he has been known to openly respond to criticisms. You've had similar situations, right?
    No, not the same as that. I got in an argument with someone and lost my temper and wrote about it on Twitter. If you look online, though, you won't find me responding to people. But what happened in that incident — it happened because it happened. I just lost my temper. I think everybody has an opinion, but if you aren't honest to someone's face, you shouldn't talk about them after or behind their back. That really upsets me. I don't want my daughter to read me being angry.

    Do you regret it?
    I don't regret it, to be honest. I just don't like to do it.

    You've been around for more than a decade and a lot of chefs have passed through your kitchen. Do you consider yourself a teacher?
    No, not really. I am a cook [laughs]. I can't try to do too much. But if I can influence some of the young guys that have been with me, fantastic. I try my best. I can't go as far to say that I have protegés or something like that. I just hope I can communicate what my idea of what food is about.

    I don't want you to repeat yourself too much, but what are your ideas of what food is about?
    Like I said, it is about seasonality. But it is also about responsibility and honesty.

    What do you mean by "responsibility"?
    You have a responsibility to use the right produce and cook in the right way. If someone is coming to spend 200 pounds for dinner, you have a serious responsibility to make sure it is worth every penny. That is a big deal. You can never forget that. Chefs that love cooking understand that. We are not secret agents, we are not saving lives. We are putting food on the plate. So you have to do your best in that and not take yourself too seriously.

    But I also see with MAD and things like that, that you have a responsibility — if you have the media behind you and the support — to show people what that is about.

    Now that you mention not taking yourself too seriously, what do think of the debate about the tyranny of tasting menus?
    We tried to do only tasting menus, but it didn't work with the customers, ultimately. Now we do the traditional thing where you can choose between à la carte or tasting menus. So there is as little tyranny as possible here. But we do make sure with the tasting menu that there is balance and that we feed people properly.

    So even though you're involved with heady, high-minded events, people shouldn't think you take yourself seriously?
    No, because my daughter would kick my ass!

    Eater.com - Gabe Ulla

    Hot-Dinners.com - Catherine Hanley
    Michelin Possible: Claude Bosi is aiming for three stars

    Michelin Possible: Claude Bosi is aiming for three stars

    Born in Lyon, Claude Bosi trained with top chefs Alain Passard and Alain Ducasse before moving to England in 1997. At the age of 24 he got his first Michelin star at Overton Grange and in 2000 opened his own restaurant Hibiscus with his wife Claire. It went on to earn two Michelin stars. In 2007 he moved the restaurant to London. This year Hibiscus entered the World’s 50 Best Restaurant List at 49 – one of only three British restaurants on the list.

    Michelin  Possible: Claude Bosi is aiming for three stars

    How were you so sure you wanted to be a chef at 16?

    Well my parents used to have a restaurant and I’ve always been in that environment of food. I needed to choose what I wanted to do and I just said to my Dad, ‘I want to be a chef.’ I’ve been lucky, my parents have always been supportive in whatever I wanted to do. So they said ‘OK, if you want to do that I’ve got a friend who has a restaurant – you can go off and work with him for the summer, see if you like it’ and that’s what I did. I just loved it.

    And then for the next few years you were told by your current chef who’d you’d be working for next. Is that usual?

    At the beginning, you’re young, 17 or 18 and you know nothing about what you want to do and you listen to your Chef de Cuisine who tells you where to go to carry on your formation to do something classic but with a twist. And you do that for the first maybe two or three places. After that you start to have more understanding of what you want to do and you choose yourself.

    So where was the first place you actually made the decision to go to?

    My first place I choose for myself was a place in Lyons called Les Quatre Saisons. It was a small husband and wife restaurant. And from that place I went to La Pyramide in Lyon and from there I went to Paris for my military service – after that I did Le Chiberta (a two-Michelin-starred restaurant). From there I went to Alain Passard at L’Arpege, then to Ducasse and after that I came to England.

    It's a bit of an odd career choice going from the heart of Paris to the English countryside. Why did you make that decision?

    I didn’t want to go to London because the idea for me was to spend six months here – to learn a bit of the language and go travelling after. You can speak French day in and day out in London and I didn’t want to do that – I wanted to go somewhere where there wasn’t a lot of French and I could improve my English quite quickly.

    I started at Overton Grange as a sous chef in November. In February the head chef left and they offered me the job. We got our first Michelin star the following January.

    So how did you pick Ludlow?

    I went to see a recruitment agency in Paris and said I wanted to go to England. The guy saw my cv – his big eyes opened and he said ‘I’ll get you something by tomorrow’. He said he’d found me a place in Ludlow. I started at Overton Grange as a sous chef in November. In February the head chef left and they offered me the job. We got our first Michelin star the following January.

    You were only 24 when you got your first star. Was that something you’d always been working towards?

    The idea wasn’t to stay in England for a long time, so no – and as a young chef I could never see myself as running a Michelin-star restaurant, so that’s why I was very surprised when it happened. When I got the first star, I thought I’d stay here a bit longer and then they decided to sell the hotel. I didn’t want to be in the position where the new owner could just come in and change everything so I thought maybe it’s time for me to have my own business.

    The only place I could afford was in Ludlow. It was just Claire and I – we didn’t have any partners, we did everything on our own. We found a small restaurant - £40,000 it cost me. We moved in and because I was in Ludlow already. It got busy quickly and then we were there for seven years.

    It seems strange, given what a foodie destination Ludlow was at that time, that you didn’t see many of the national critics at Hibiscus.

    I think in the seven years I was at Hibiscus I had three at the most. They were Matthew Fort, Charles Campion and Jan Moir.

    So what’s the difference between running a restaurant in Ludlow to London? Is one harder than the other?

    The countryside is harder. You really need to take care of your locals because they’re your press. They’re the ones talking to others – saying ‘You’ve got to go there, it’s great’. In Ludlow from April to September we were full for lunch and dinner. But from September to April if we didn’t have a local clientele, we’d never have stayed open for so long. It is tougher. You really need to remember the faces of people when they’re coming in – it’s a really intense job. Even if you don’t do as many covers as you do in London the work is twice as hard.

    If you can do it in the countryside, then I believe it’s easy in London. The hardest thing in London is that people can come to you one day and go next door the next day. You can’t take them for granted because it’s more expensive to [run a restaurant] in London than in the countryside. There, you have to really look after them when you have them.

    hibiscus

    Why, when you were such a big culinary star in Ludlow, did you then decide to come to London

    I wanted to come to London in 2004 and at that time Claire said to me, we are not ready yet. We’re too young – we don’t have a big enough reputation to go to London. We should wait a bit. That year we waited and got a second star. Business boomed again and we did another two or three years. But I always loved this city.

    So what was the flashpoint for you?

    I was visiting my friend [Anthony Demetre] at Arbutus, and I was walking through Soho and I saw all these people and I said to Claire – I really want to come down to London.

    When I decided to sell the restaurant, I didn’t have a backer or a site – nothing. I put the restaurant on the market in August, told Michelin we were leaving – really started the ball rolling. From that point there was no going back. One of my customers found I wanted to move to London – he was from London – and said we should have a chat. He said we could maybe do business together. We chatted and I found three partners who’ve been great – very supportive, very understanding of what we want to do here and we’re all working in the same direction.

    It’s not easy selling a two Michelin starred restaurant in the middle of nowhere. But in October, Alan Murchison from L’Ortolan was interested, came to have a chat over Christmas and then it was sold.

    Why did you pick Maddox Street to set up shop?

    This was an empty shell. I wasn’t anticipating the Ladbrokes next door – but it’s not easy to find a site in London! This had an alcohol licence which was what exactly we were looking for. One of my partners is very good on property. He took me here and told me it would work. We found this in February, signed in August and opened on the 28th October.

    I thought they’d give us an opportunity to put ourselves down a bit, but as soon as we opened the door the critics just started coming in. Bunch of fuckers!

    There was a lot of buzz about your move to London. Were you excited by it all?

    At the time I felt I made the wrong decision. I thought they’d give us an opportunity to put ourselves down a bit, but as soon as we opened the door the critics just started coming in. Bunch of fuckers! The first week I think we had them all. I don’t need to explain to you it was a nightmare. Taking it back I wish we’d taken some time, run it for a bit at half price but I couldn’t afford it.

    The first person past the door was Jan Moir – the very first paying customer. And that was the meal she did the review from – she loved it. It was quite funny because when she came to Ludlow she’d said ‘Hibiscus is so special it could never work in London.’

    More recently Nuno Mendes got a bit of stick for insisting on strict no-photography or blogging rule for his soft launch for Viajante. Would you have preferred to have done that?

    That’s quite clever – he’s right. We moved our kitchen in on a Thursday and I think I did my first service on a Tuesday. I should never have done it that quickly. But you learn from your mistakes. The next time, I’d take plenty of time to do it.

    When you moved to London you lost one of your Michelin stars – had you anticipated that happening?

    To be honest I was disappointed, but we weren’t ready. I think Michelin made a fantastic decision at that time – even if it’s painful to say it. We opened in late October and normally the inspections for the year are roughly finished by the first week of November. They did a lot of inspection at the beginning and we weren’t ready. When the Michelin guy came and said he wanted to tell me himself that we hadn’t got back the second star, I was devastated. They said we’ll give you a rising two star. It’s a big thing – two Michelin stars – and they said they couldn’t make a judgement on two weeks. I said we just have to keep our heads down, keep focused, make sure the restaurant’s busy and the good thing was there were no new two stars that year. We got it back in 2009 and that was that.

    Any chef who has two stars and says ‘Fuck it, I’m happy with my two stars’ is a liar. Chefs have got massive egos, you know.

    So you’re on the hunt for three stars?

    So many chefs say to me, ‘You’ve got two stars, four rosettes – you’re in the World’s Top 50 – don’t do it!’. But you need the challenge in life. Any chef who has two stars and says ‘Fuck it, I’m happy with my two stars’ is a liar. Chefs have got massive egos, you know.

    What, in your opinion, raises a restaurant from two to three stars?

    The partnership between the restaurant and the kitchen – the overall experience, from the moment you pass the door to when you leave the restaurant – the whole package. I know a lot of people can’t understand why Alain Ducasse got three but that what Gordon’s got, what Heston’s got at the Fat Duck, at the Waterside – they’ve got this balance between the restaurant and the kitchen perfect. You go to the Dorchester and the service is fantastic. The food is two-star but if you’ve got all these two elements right – you need to be a hole in one.

    A lot of people seem to think you’re on course to win a third star.

    Well I hope someone is listening to them. But to get that right balance is really hard.

    We spoke to you just after you entered the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list – how has that changed things for you?

    It just boosted the business – it was madness. To give you an idea, last year in May we did about 300 covers a week. Now we’ll do about 400-450 a week. It’s a really big thing. Today’s the first day we haven’t had the private room booked. For the last three weeks it’s gone mad and it’s just fantastic.

    Will you be doing the London Restaurant Festival again this year?

    I will do the Restaurant Odyssey – and we’ll do 10:10:10 (where 10 high profile out-of-town chefs come to London to work alongside their city peers for a very special Sunday lunch) and I’m talking to a friend about doing it with me – he’s not from England. I’m trying to get him to do that with us.

    Michelin Possible: Claude Bosi is aiming for three stars

    It's clear you love being in London. So where do you like to eat out?

    I love Arbutus and Wild Honey – Anthony’s a great friend of mine and what I love about it is the fantastic food. He’s a great cook – he’s so simple, so earnest.  I love his places. I had a great meal at Royal Hospital Road in April. Clare Smyth is doing a fantastic job there – really, really good. You can see why it’s three star – as a normal customer, the package was fantastic. Jean-Claude’s doing a fantastic job in front – he makes you feel so at home – so it was a great dinner.

    And who’s work is exciting you right now?

    I love what Nuno’s doing. I’ve been twice now to Viajante – I went with the 50 Best chefs. I loved what he used to do at Bacchus, and I think he’s going to be fantastic there. I love the guy – he’s so humble, so nice. There’s nothing bad about that guy – the food is fresh and pure – not chichi – it’s still food, even if it’s a bit different. We’ve got some great openings coming up in London this year, we’ve got Heston, Joel Antunes who’s opening this week. Bar Boulud is very good – and we’ve got Koffman opening.

    What about you? Do you have any other projects on the go?

    I’d like to open a pub with my brother. You know we used to have a pub in Ludlow (The Bell Inn). The pub used to be mine and his – we used to run it together – we closed it down in February. I’d like him to move down to London. I’m looking for a place now, maybe around London.

    I like the idea of a village pub, but it would be very English – no French food at all. That would be the first thing. It would mean I could stay here, my brother could run it and I could put one of my sous-chefs in it to run it. 

    Hot-Dinners.com - Catherine Hanley

    FT.com - Rebecca Seal
    Chef’s suggestions: Claude Bosi’s Lyons

    Chef’s suggestions: Claude Bosi’s Lyons

    Claude Bosi

    Born and trained in Lyons, Claude Bosi is now chef-proprietor at the two-Michelin starred Hibiscus in London, but returns regularly to visit family and check up on the city’s food scene.

    For a business lunch ... I would try the bistro Léon de Lyon. The chef there, Jean-Paul Lacombe used to have two Michelin stars but he gave it all up to do a bistro. It’s a wonderful setting, also with a little terrace outside until September, and a fantastic wine list.

    1 Rue Pléney – angle Rue Du Plâtre, tel +33 (0) 4 72 10 11 12, www.bistrotsdecuisiniers.com

    The best food market ... is the Quai St Antoine on the side of the river Saône. Get there early, by 8 or 9am – it starts at 4 or 5am and most of the chefs of Lyons go there. When I did my apprenticeship I was there too, carrying lots of heavy boxes because that’s what you have to do at that age! People there will be cooking their own bread or roasting chickens in rotisserie ovens and pizza ovens.

    Quai St Antoine, Presqu’île

    For a meal outside ... go to Rue Mercier, which is full of traditional Lyons bistros, all of which have terraces – if you go there at night it’s absolutely booming. Similarly, across the river in the old part of Lyons, St Paul, there are also lots of small bistros on little pedestrianised streets. A lot of them do more or less the same menu but I find that normally the dodgier they look, the better they are – they put no effort into appearance and all of it into the food.

    The place causing a buzz ... is Nicolas le Bec. The chef is young, and is a Breton. The restaurant is in the new part of Lyons and he’s doing something very interesting, mixing his influences from Brittany and some ideas from Lyons. It is quite modern, exciting food.

    14, rue Grolée, tel: +33 (0) 4 78 42 15 35, www.nicolaslebec.com

    For a taste of traditional Lyons ... you should try La Mere Brazier – originally the chef was a woman, the first to get three Michelin stars. The restaurant has been there forever, but the current chef just took over last year and is maintaining its traditions, serving very classic food.

    12, Rue Royale, tel; +33 (0) 4 78 23 17 20, www.lamerebrazier.fr

    My guilty pleasure ... is macaroons from Bernachon; they do little round chocolate ones and also something we call a “cocon”, which is shaped like a silkworm’s cocoon because Lyons used to be famous for its silk.

    42, courts Franklin-Roosevelt, tel: +33 04 78 24 37 98, www.bernachon.com

    FT.com - Rebecca Seal

    FT.com - Natalie Whittle
    FT Foodies: Claude Bosi

    FT Foodies: Claude Bosi

    Claude Bosi, head chef at the two-starred Hibiscus in London, grew up in Lyon, where his parents ran a bistro. He moved from France to the UK in 1997. Three years later he opened the first Hibiscus in Shropshire before relocating to Mayfair in 2007. Hibiscus was recently voted into the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants and earlier this year Bosi opened a London pub, the Fox and Grapes, in Wimbledon.

    What was your parents’ bistro like?

    It was a proper bistro du quartier. Very simple. My mum cooked the plat du jour and my dad ran the front of house.

    What’s your earliest memory of cooking at home?

    I was 13 and I tried to cook an egg. I set the house on fire and burnt the whole ceiling. My mother banned me from the kitchen until I was about 16.

    How did you become a chef?

    When I was 14, I had a meeting with my parents and the headmaster. I said to them I wanted to stop school and I wanted to be a chef. It was not for a love of food at the time. I hated school.

    What was your biggest break?

    Alain Passard at L’Arpège in Paris. The respect for produce, simplicity, seasoning – it was really the place that opened my eyes up to cooking.

    Why did you choose to open a pub instead of another restaurant?

    I thought it was the closest thing to what my parents had in France. The British pub is like the bistro du quartier. My brother Cédric runs the Fox and Grapes, and it’s just like being at home.

    Do the French still have a misconception of British pub culture?

    They used to, but I hope they have stopped thinking now that it’s just lamb and mint jelly and those things, because it has really moved forward. In London, I like the Anchor & Hope, the Harwood Arms, and the Prince of Wales in Putney. There are so many good places.

    Why did you change the wine list at Hibiscus to be more biodynamic?

    I was bored with having a wine list with no personality. I wanted to have wines that matched the food, so that there was something to talk about – to know why small producers made wine a certain way, just as we know how our veal is produced.

    What do you cook at the weekend for your family?

    A nice roast chicken, Jersey Royals and some English asparagus.

    What is the worst thing about being a chef?

    Dealing with incompetent staff.

    Who would work in your dream kitchen?

    I would have Alain Passard on the meat, Frédy Girardet on the vegetables, and puddings would be Michel Roux senior. Marcus Wareing could do the washing up – he is very serious, hard-working and disciplined. He would be a fantastic head plongeur.

    FT.com - Natalie Whittle

     

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