Origins of Trevor Gulliver

One of Britain’s most respected restaurateurs, Trevor grew up believing London was the centre of the culinary universe – a view his avant-garde approach helped validate, taking notes from the French along the way

Origins of Trevor Gulliver Photo


I was born in central London in the Fifties. My father was a detective in the Flying Squad at Scotland Yard and they were considered to be the elite, so I was lucky – he’d take me to eat in Soho and for tea and cake in the Officers’ Mess room in the Docklands. I remember getting boiled beetroot wrapped in newspaper from East Street Market, and at Christmas we’d make pressed tongue with a plate weighted down, as people did, but my dad would bring home specialities such as Gorgonzola, which felt exotic.


Growing up, I felt London was the centre of the universe. Lunch would be at Italian cafés on Brewer Street like Topo Gigio, or Blooms in the City for short-rib sandwiches. The diversity of cuisine here is something else. It’s a pleasure to be a Londoner now, but it’s even better to know how it all started.


This was my earliest restaurant experience. It stands out in my mind because there used to a man standing on the door, holding a huge scimitar – I jumped backwards across the street the first time I saw it. This must have been the start of my curry obsession too.

Chefs of the Eighties

Originally, my career started in the rock ‘n’ roll industry, creating merchandise, but I met a lot of people through restaurants. I lived around the corner from Langan’s and I was there all the time. Alastair Little was a friend – equally, Rowley Leigh at the Kensington Place, Sally Clarke and Sir Terence Conran – they all made an enormous impact.


I worked there for a bit and it’s always a fun place. Restaurants like Chez l’Ami Louis come with heritage – they are comfortable with who they are, which is a very French concept. It means you appreciate what is cooked, how it is served and the ambience.

The Fire Station

I was lucky enough to go from being a customer to a restaurateur with the opening of the The Fire Station. It was the first public space turned restaurant, though we weren’t allowed to keep the pole. It also became one of the first female-friendly bars – although this didn’t cross our minds, we just wanted it to be friendly – and we had a big open kitchen, which hadn’t been done before. What’s good about naivety is you’re not aware you’re taking a risk.

Fergus Henderson

We met through a mutual olive oil supplier – our cupid – and when we launched St John’s [with St John Smithfield] in 1994 it was leap of faith. The best thing about Fergus is his purpose. He is without doubt the most influential chef of his generation. It doesn’t matter if we are in Valparaíso or Tokyo, he is recognised, and his impact spans all continents.


A basket should be on the table to welcome people. There’s something romantic about baking bread, it comes from the heart. There’s no better way to start the day than with the aromas of freshly baked sourdough.


Nature writes the menu and that’s the beauty of it. Spring asparagus and kid are among the greatest ingredients, simply because we only have them for a short time. Britain is lucky to have a thriving game season and abundance of fish – not knowing what we will have to eat tomorrow because it hasn’t been caught yet makes it so wonderful.


Our wine list has always been exclusively French and the reasons are simple: they make good wine, they are our neighbours and we buy direct. I’ve maintained relationships in Bordeaux for over 25 years and France was one of the first places I went to when Covid restrictions lifted – I always look forward to it.

Origins of Trevor Gulliver Photo

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