Flash-grilled: Oliver Milburn

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Oliver Milburn director of the London-based Kitty Fisher’s restaurant group discusses his career

Related tags Oliver Milburn Kitty Fisher’s Chefs Cora Pearl London Restaurant Cafe Kitty Fine dining

The director of the London-based Kitty Fisher’s Group on the generosity of American tourists, his worst review (as an actor), and memories of dining in Brittany.

What was your first industry job?
I was a waiter at the Pump Room in Bath when I was 17. The tips were incredible, sometimes £30 a day in 1990. God love American tourists. 

What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
My father, Michael Milburn. He had the guts to change from being a fully trained baker to becoming a wonderful cook and restaurateur in his 20's. Along with my mother, Pen, he then created a whole new industry of people eating really well when they went to public attractions. 

What’s your pet hate in the kitchen?
Kitchen porters leaving the tap on all through the service. Water is life, and we waste it.

Sum up your cooking style in a single sentence…

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
When I was an actor, Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail​ said: "And as for Oliver Milburn as Angel Clare, he was out-acted by his milking stool." Fortunately, I can now rely on our incredible chefs and floor staff to ensure we get (mostly) brilliant reviews.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Have fun. Revel in the madness. The skill set required is huge, so work as hard as you can and then a bit harder. Write lists of things that need doing. Be very ambitious but not at the expense of others. Take them with you!

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
The mayonnaise whisk. Electric, of course, I'm not mad.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Caviar; steak and chips; cheese.

À la carte or tasting menu?
À la carte all the way

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had in a restaurant?
When I was 12 we went to a Brittany restaurant for one of those 1980's seven course/120 franc nouvelle cuisine jobs and it blew my tiny mind.

What’s your favourite fast food joint?
Shake Shack. The Shakemeister cheeseburger with extra crispy onions and cheese chips is heaven on earth.

What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Caesar salad. The greatest dish of all time.

MasterChef or Great British Menu?

What’s the most overrated food?
Game. Sorry.

You’re restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
Floor staff saying 'enjoy' - first against the wall.

Who would your dream dinner party guests be?
My wife; Margot Robbie; AP McCoy; W.C. Fields; Whitney Houston; and The Rolling Stones, obviously. Going to hit the town after dinner.

What’s your earliest food memory?
I had a babysitter who mashed cold hard-boiled eggs up with butter. Two delicious things, completely disgusting result.

Twitter or Instagram?
Instagram. Gave up Twitter in lockdown and feel much better for it. 

What’s your tipple of choice?
Whisky and water

What’s your favourite food and drink pairing?
Pickled onion Space Raiders and Ribena.

What do you consider to be your signature dish?
At home it's Joyce Molyneux's salmon en croute with ginger. In the restaurants, it's crispy potatoes.

Related topics Fine Dining

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