FT Foodies: Claude Bosi

Claude Bosi, head chef at the two-starred Hibiscus in London, grew up in Lyon, where his parents ran a bistro. He moved from France to the UK in 1997. Three years later he opened the first Hibiscus in Shropshire before relocating to Mayfair in 2007. Hibiscus was recently voted into the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants and earlier this year Bosi opened a London pub, the Fox and Grapes, in Wimbledon.

What was your parents’ bistro like?

It was a proper bistro du quartier. Very simple. My mum cooked the plat du jour and my dad ran the front of house.

What’s your earliest memory of cooking at home?

I was 13 and I tried to cook an egg. I set the house on fire and burnt the whole ceiling. My mother banned me from the kitchen until I was about 16.

How did you become a chef?

When I was 14, I had a meeting with my parents and the headmaster. I said to them I wanted to stop school and I wanted to be a chef. It was not for a love of food at the time. I hated school.

What was your biggest break?

Alain Passard at L’Arpège in Paris. The respect for produce, simplicity, seasoning – it was really the place that opened my eyes up to cooking.

Why did you choose to open a pub instead of another restaurant?

I thought it was the closest thing to what my parents had in France. The British pub is like the bistro du quartier. My brother Cédric runs the Fox and Grapes, and it’s just like being at home.

Do the French still have a misconception of British pub culture?

They used to, but I hope they have stopped thinking now that it’s just lamb and mint jelly and those things, because it has really moved forward. In London, I like the Anchor & Hope, the Harwood Arms, and the Prince of Wales in Putney. There are so many good places.

Why did you change the wine list at Hibiscus to be more biodynamic?

I was bored with having a wine list with no personality. I wanted to have wines that matched the food, so that there was something to talk about – to know why small producers made wine a certain way, just as we know how our veal is produced.

What do you cook at the weekend for your family?

A nice roast chicken, Jersey Royals and some English asparagus.

What is the worst thing about being a chef?

Dealing with incompetent staff.

Who would work in your dream kitchen?

I would have Alain Passard on the meat, Frédy Girardet on the vegetables, and puddings would be Michel Roux senior. Marcus Wareing could do the washing up – he is very serious, hard-working and disciplined. He would be a fantastic head plongeur.


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