I met chef Olly Bird a couple of months ago when I popped in to try out Rex and Mariano - the newest restaurant from the Goodman Group, and in my opinion, the best place to get fish and seafood in London at the moment. Olly is Executive Chef of the Goodman Group (Goodman steakhouses, Burger and Lobster, Rex and Mariano, Beast) and was working closely with their latest venture to make sure everything was running smoothly - which it was! I was sitting on my own up at the oyster bar and Olly patiently answered all my many questions (not the ones below) as he shucked massive, fresh oysters for me and the other diners. Cool, calm and collected Olly was in complete control of the hectic looking, open kitchens at the restaurant. He kindly gave me his card so I could get in touch with my "proper" interview questions, and came back with the below answers.

1. Who has inspired you the most in your career?

This is a hard question as every head chef I have worked under has always inspired me to push on more in my career, but the main two have to be Mark Sargent for the way he makes cooking look so smooth and easy and John Cadieux for his depth in knowledge and passion - I can still remember rocking up to Goodman Maddox Street and being blown away by what he knew about beef. 

2. What is the first thing you remember cooking?

Apart from baking on Sundays with my mum, I remember cooking pears poached in red wine, as well as cooking on the vegetable section. But after progressing off the side section I remember being allowed to cook salmon with a beurre blanc sauce which at the time was a massive achievement for me.

3. What is your favourite restaurant in London (excluding any you work for!)?

The Ledbury. 

4. What is your can't live without kitchen gadget?

Food mixer, as I love making desserts and bread (I love my food mixer too - it saves so much time in my kitchen and I use it for desserts and bread, but also chopping, grating, sauces...)

5. What are your top 3, can't live without, ingredients?

Nutella as I have an addiction to it. But that aside it’s salt, foie gras and butter. (Such an expected answer!! Nutella...!?)

6. What's your newest ingredient discovery?

Fermented yellow beans, not so much a new discovery but I have been recently cooking some Asian style dishes so have been working with this product for the first time.

7. What is the most difficult food intolerance to cook for?

I would probably say gluten is the hardest as you have it in so many products around you in the kitchen.

8. What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to start a career as a chef?

To remember that when you walk into the kitchen you won't be a superstar like the chefs you see on television, and that it's not as easy as it looks, so if it's something that you really want to do as a career then get ready for the long hours, heat and hard work. Keep your head down and learn as much as you can. And never answer back!! (This is something that most chefs I've interviewed have said - it is hard, hard work - even from my infrequent and small pop ups I know how much hard work it is!)

9. What do you make of supper clubs? Have you ever been to one?

I think supper clubs are great fun and a good opportunity to meet new people, I have been to Burger Monday and we cooked the Goodman burger there a few years back.

10. And finally - what's the plan for you in 2015, and beyond? Where are you currently working, and do you have any exciting projects in the pipeline (that you don't mind my readers knowing about!)
I’m executive chef for Goodman, Beast and Rex and Mariano so I end up floating around all the sites, but most of my time at the moment is spent between Beast and Rex and Mariano as these are our newest openings so far. As soon as we have any exciting news I will let you all know! 

Again, such fascinating answers, thank you so Olly. I'm really enjoying running this series of chef interviews, and I hope you are too. You can check out previous editions with Michel Roux Jr, Carl Clarke, and Matt Burgess.


  1. So with you on this Rosie, Rex & Mariano has to be the best fish restaurant in London! Paul and I loved it and can't wait to return - such nice staff and we felt like we were on holiday

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

    1. It's so great isn't it! Can't wait to go back either!!

      Rosie xx

  2. I loved Rex and Mariano, great to find out a bit more about Olly Bird and I love know chefs favourite restaurants!
    Lots of love,

    1. Such a good restaurant. Glad you're enjoying the interviews :)

      Rosie xx

  3. Lovely interview :) We love Olly!! Have a look at this video he did for Mr Porter on how to cook a steak...


    1. Great video, though watching it's made me hungry now!!

      Rosie xx


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