Flash-grilled: Gary Lee

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Chef Gary Lee on his first job and the worst review he's ever received

Related tags Gary Lee Chef Covent garden Hotel London Restaurant

The former Ivy executive chef, who now leads the kitchen at Sycamore Vino Cucina within London's Middle Eight hotel in Covent Garden, on his first job and his worst review.

What was your first industry job?
Pot wash at the Royal Forest Hotel.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
DJ.

What industry figure do you most admire, and why? 
April Partridge [former chef de partie at The Ivy and current sous chef at The Ledbury]. She is destined for continued success. 

What’s your pet hate in the kitchen?
Bullshit. 

Sum up your cooking style in a single sentence…
No frills, hearty and honest. 

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
Someone wrote that my food lacked any flavour. Too many tipples, I say. 

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Believe in yourself. 

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
Spoon. 

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Bacon sandwich with HP sauce, although not sure there is much point. 

À la carte or tasting menu?
À la carte.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had in a restaurant?
Too many to mention. 

What’s your favourite fast food joint?
KFC. 

What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Pizza.

MasterChef ​or Great British Menu​?
Neither. 

What’s the most overrated food?
Lobster.

You’re restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
Loud voices.

Who would your dream dinner party guests be?
My daughters and my grandson. 

What’s your earliest food memory? 
Making fairy cakes at school and discovering the delightful fondant. 

Twitter or Instagram?
Instagram. 

What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
In the boxing ring. 

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
To the gym.

What’s your tipple of choice?
Guinness. 

What’s your favourite food and drink pairing? 
Fish and white wine.

What do you consider to be your signature dish?
My duck salad.

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