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Ollie Dabbous, 33, worked at restaurants including Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Hibiscus, Mugaritz, The Fat Duck, Noma and Texture, where he was head chef, before opening his own restaurant, Dabbous, in January 2012.
What was your childhood or earliest ambition?
I have no idea. I can barely remember what happened last week, let alone my earliest memories. My current schedule is nose-bleed-inducing.
Public or state school? University or straight into work?
Public school then straight into work. My parents made a lot of sacrifices to give me a good education. I understood that from a young age. I was there to get the grades.
Who was or still is your mentor?
No one. I’ve learnt from everyone I’ve worked for but, ultimately, you find your own voice.
How physically fit are you?
I’m in good shape but lack the time to go to the gym as often as I’d like. People say don’t trust a thin chef, I say don’t trust a fat one – they’re clearly not putting in the hours.
Talent or ambition: which matters more to success?
Talent – it is far rarer than ambition, though nothing without a work ethic. Resilience is also key.
Have you ever taken an IQ test?
No. Seems pointless.
How politically committed are you?
I just get on with my own life and control the things within my grasp. Everyone else can do the arguing.
Do you consider your carbon footprint?
At the restaurant, absolutely. On a personal level – carbon what?
Do you own more than one home?
No, just my flat in central London – but I’m rarely there, given my workload. All I need is a bed and a shower at the moment. I’m not exactly hosting dinner parties on my days off.
What would you like to own that you currently don’t possess?
A Dodge Charger 69 in triple black. I’ll treat myself once things finally quieten down a bit.
What is your biggest extravagance?
Freedom of expression. Given the success and continuing popularity of the restaurant, I feel completely comfortable making creative decisions purely on my own tastes.
In what place are you happiest?
In bed. I get about four hours’ sleep a night during the working week.
What ambitions do you still have?
Early retirement. Cooking is a hard way to make a living.
What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
The obvious answer is creating my restaurant and its success.
What has been your greatest disappointment?
No biggies so far.
If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would he think?
“Seriously . . . still no girlfriend?!” He would undoubtedly be proud and relieved that the sacrifices made during my formative years had paid off, but equally disturbed that the intensity and workload haven’t yet diminished.
If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?
Punch a wall, slowly accept things and sleep like a baby. It would be both devastating and liberating.
Do you believe in assisted suicide?
Absolutely. As soon as I can no longer wipe my own arse, someone can gladly throw me under a bus.
Do you believe in an afterlife?
Absolutely not. The last thing I’ll see is the N97, or a queue of people waiting to throw me under it.
If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?
Somewhere between zero and five. It feels good to realise my potential and do something creative but there is no balance right now – it’s all work, no play. Accomplishment and satisfaction are two different things.
Ollie Dabbous’ second project, Barnyard, opened last month; barnyard-london.com
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