In conversation with Rivington Grill Head Chef Simon Wadham
Born on the Isle of Wight, Simon attended Kingham Hill School in Oxfordshire before joining the army aged 15, serving abroad for the next seven years. Upon leaving the army, he began working at the fashionable Joe’s Café in South Kensington. He then went to work for Oliver Peyton at the Atlantic Bar & Grill, spending the next ten years working for Peyton. In 2007, Simon joined Caprice Holdings as Head Chef at the Rivington Grill in Shoreditch and Greenwich, where he works with locally sourced produce, creating distinctively British dishes. Outside of the kitchen, Simon is interested in film, mountain sports and sky diving.
C: Where were you trained?
S: I initially trained as a chef in the army. When I left, I began working at Joe’s Cafe in South Kensington and then moved onto Oliver Peyton at the Atlantic Bar & Grill where I stayed on for another 10 years at most of his operations at one stage or another. I joined Caprice Holdings as Head Chef at Rivington in 2007 and have been there ever since.
C: What is your signature dish?
S: King scallops with pumpkin mash, black pudding and bacon. I’m a big fan of back-to-basics British cooking, taking eating out back to its roots, using the best seasonal produce sourced from suppliers around the British Isles.
C: What is your favourite meal?
S: It would have to be Shepherd’s Pie.
C: Any guilty pleasures / vices?
S: Motorbikes and fast cars.
C: What’s been the most difficult dish you’ve had to cook?
S: The essence of the Rivington Grill is simplicity. Our menus feature responsibly-sourced produce, and we keep our ingredients as current and fresh as possible. With top quality ingredients and simple dishes, the food tastes much better.
C: Which country boasts the best cuisine, in your opinion?
S: I love British food, but Mediterranean food is also a favourite, for its simplicity and its diversity – with everything from slow-cooked tagines, pastas, to of course the amazing fish and seafare.
[quote_right]lasagne sheets from flour and water and a basic Bolognese sauce from corned beef with tinned processed cheese sauce atop…delicious![/quote_right]C: What’s the strangest meal you’ve ever prepared?
S: When I was in the army serving in Kuwait, we were issued the same ration box menu for three weeks. The items we had to be creative with were pilchards in tomato sauce and beef corned dog, as we used to call it. So maybe making lasagne sheets from flour and water and a basic Bolognese sauce from corned beef with tinned processed cheese sauce atop…delicious!
C: Cooked for anyone famous recently?
S: We respect anonymity at the Rivington Grill…but I once flew to Ibiza to cook for Moby.
C: On a day off, who cooks for you?
S: There are so many great local cafés around Shoreditch and Hackney for breakfast. For dinner it’s either dinner at the restaurant, or dinner with friends locally.
C: Any local companies you know of that are regular guests at your restaurant?
S: Philip from Start, Michelle from Bordello, Carl Freedman, Eddie and Steve Present, to name but a few. We see a lot of regulars from in and around Shoreditch and Hackney, as well as our regulars from the city.
C: And last but not least, why do you like working in Shoreditch?
S: Shoreditch has got everything you want. The young, old, new, and historic. Shoreditch has a real contemporary vibe about it and there is something for everyone. It’s the hub of cool.
Rivington Bar & Grill
28 – 30 Rivington Street
London EC2A 3DZ