In search of the most ambitious and self defining entrepreneurs we hunted down Robin Gill, the Founder of London’s 3 sister Gourmet Restaurants and Deli (The Dairy, The Manor, Paradise Garage and The Delicatessen) serving home-grown ingredients from his rooftop garden in Clapham Old Town. We talk inspiration, family life and dreams of New York City.
Getting to Know Robin
Can you tell us where your passion for food began?
I have always been involved with food from a very young age. My Aunt has an organic farm in Cork, which is where I spent many summers growing up. Following this, I started cooking in some of the most well respected restaurants in the world where the produce was of impeccable quality. I spent a year and a half in Amalfi, south of Italy, where the restaurant I was working in had their own farm overlooking Capri. I then worked with Raymond Blanc, one of the UK’s most successful Chefs, and discovered the most amazing kitchen gardens you could ever imagine. All of these experiences have been incredibly influential and have essentially fuelled my passion for food.
“I have always been involved with food from a very young age. My Aunt has an organic farm in Cork, which is where I spent many summers growing up.”
How did your passion turn into a business?
I wanted to create an urban kitchen where we would grow practically all of our own herbs, vegetables and flowers. Staying true to this idea I make sure that across all three restaurants even the smaller ingredients are home-grown, which is why we produce our own honey with our 5 beehives! The pleasure comes from being able to create a ‘farm to table’ feel in London. It is the same ethos with The Delicatessen as it is in the restaurants, where we produce everything on site from all of our breads, honey, pickles, jams and chutneys to our own salamis. You get the feel that you have just walked into a farm house shop which is exactly what we want in the city. This ingredients obsession in a humble, warm and friendly environment is the key to the success of the business.
“The pleasure comes from being able to create a ‘farm to table’ feel in London.”
How do you manage a busy family-work lifestyle?
Having a passion for food is a positive attribute which fits in well with family life. Food brings people together! Family, friends and lovers all revolve around food. It’s part of life.
How would you describe the vibe of your restaurants?
There is one common theme behind all three restaurants and that is extremely passionate and obsessive people working hard to create exciting and original experiences. The individuality of the restaurants are the people running them. The discipline of searching for the best ingredients to cook with is the same but the individuality of each kitchen shines through our chefs. Music plays a big part in each site and the service is fun friendly and not over the top.
“There is one common theme behind all three restaurants and that is extremely passionate and obsessive people working hard to create exciting and original experiences.”
What’s your view on the current market for healthier restaurants?
I opened my first restaurant, The Dairy, with little financial backing after travelling Europe. I think there is definitely a market for healthier eating restaurants in London, there are some incredible chefs out there leading the way in the cooking world putting vegetables first before heavy meat dishes which are very in right now.
What’s happening on the food scene in both East and West London?
At the moment I think that East London is creating more experimental sites and there is a more creative feel in many of the restaurants. West London, on the other hand, sometimes lacks in originality for restaurants.
“East London is creating more experimental sites and there is a more creative feel in many of the restaurants.”
How do you deal with dietary requests?
Across all three restaurants almost 70% of our dishes are gluten free as we naturally tend to make dishes this way. If dishes aren’t gluten free then they can be made so; our teams on the creative side of cooking have immense skills when it comes to this. Also, our gluten free bread is arguably the best you could find anywhere (just saying)!
How easy is it to appeal to ‘raw food’ dieters?
We are very vegetable focused so any vegan or gluten free guests will be more than happy with us and what’s more… we have a very exciting dairy free tasting menu awaiting!
What’s the secret to pleasing your customers?
We obviously grow our own ingredients for the main dishes but it surprises people when we’re able to create desserts without sugars since we always have best seasonal fruit in house and our own honey, of course.
Rebel Wrap Up
Can you reveal any future plans for growth?
We established 3 sister restaurants in a rapid amount of time, which is all part of the bigger picture. I won’t lie, it’s been pretty hectic to say the least… I would like to settle for a little while and keep pushing the boundaries with the sites we have at the moment. I do however have a dream of doing something in New York but at this stage it’s just a dream.