There is nothing quite like saying you’re dining at The Ritz to get green-eyed looks from your nearest and dearest. Luxury of an unparalleled degree is summoned up by even softly breathing the words, ‘The Ritz’. Hg2 got to speak to John Williams, executive chef at this behemoth of luxe dining, about what it is that makes The Ritz so special and his most hedonistic culinary experience.
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How long have you been at the Ritz for? How does The Ritz Restaurant stand out from London’s culinary scene? I have been Executive Chef at The Ritz for seven years. The Ritz Restaurant is often described as one of the most beautiful dining rooms in Europe, with a truly palatial feel: garlands of chandeliers, panelled walls of mirrors, stunning statues, floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Green Park and an al fresco Terrace – a rarity in London, and perfect for the summer months. It also upholds a formal dress code (no jeans or trainers; jacket and tie for gentlemen) to create a celebratory atmosphere with old-school glamour that is getting ever more difficult to find in London. Every Friday and Saturday night we also host ‘Live at The Ritz’ — a dinner and dance evening with live music and a spectacular five-course menu. We are one of the few restaurants in London to still host such evenings, and they are always extremely popular.
How would you describe your signature style? Classic evolution.
What’s the most hedonistic thing you’ve cooked? ‘Egg Faberge’ for 200 people — a mousseline of lobster cooked in an eggshell, with a mosaic of truffled macaroni, and a soft, fondant-like, poached quail’s egg set in the centre.
How would you describe London’s current restaurant scene, and how has it changed in recent years? Very eclectic! It has developed into one of the best cosmopolitan cities for dining choice.
What details do you like/dislike seeing in a restaurant? The most important elements that I look for when dining out are a warm greeting, comfortable surroundings, great lighting, a welcoming ambience, a fresh aroma, great cooking (of course!) and a sommelier who helps with wine at a reasonable cost.
What’s been the most hedonistic dining experience of your life thus far? Michel Bras.
In London, what is your favourite –
Restaurant (aside from the Ritz)? Trinity Restaurant.
Bar? The Connaught Bar.
Club? RAC Club.
Shop? Any cigar shop!
Spa? The Spa at The Four Seasons Hotel London.
Cultural must-see? A royal wedding!
If you weren’t in London, where would you be?
What’s next for you?
The best part of life…