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Hailing from Lyon, Claude Bosi had a head start on most French chefs. Renowned as the capital of French cuisine, France’s third largest city was where Bosi’s parents owned a successful restaurant, and where Bosi developed a love of fine produce. He went on to work under the likes of Rostang, Passard and Ducasse in Paris. But it was in the UK that the young chef was to make his name.
Bosi travelled to England to improve his language skills, but what was originally intended to be a short–term move turned into an enduring love affair. After winning his first Michelin star at Shropshire’s Overton Grange, he opened Hibiscus in the market town of Ludlow in 2000. Within three years he had won two Michelin stars, and by 2007 he had moved Hibiscus to a new site in London’s Mayfair.
As the Frenchman (and honorary Englishman) prepares to mentor George Kataras, the finalist for the UK and Ireland region in the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016 competition, he gave Fine Dining Lovers his verdict on his adopted home.
How does it feel, as a Frenchman, to be mentoring a chef from the UK or Ireland, and competing against France?
It’s a great privilege to be representing England in such an important competition. After being here for nearly 20 years, I feel as though I am almost English!
What inspired you as a young chef to work overseas, and what made you decide to stay in the UK?
I wanted to travel and England was the nearest from home (Lyon). I came here for six months initially, and I fell in love with the country and their way of thinking. If you get a chance in life it’s up to you whether you take it or not. I did.
How does the UK compare to France as a culinary destination today?
France will always have a very special place in my heart, but after living in England all this time, I love the diversity you get here – and the energy of wanting to progress. The food movement in the UK is testament that France is a little behind this beautiful country.
How have your excursions to other countries such as Japan changed your ideas about food and restaurants?
Japan really confirmed what I learned in places like L’Arpege and Alain Ducasse. If you choose great produce, it will largely speak for itself.
Your Hibiscus restaurant moved location from Ludlow to London, and has recently adopted a simpler, more relaxed approach. How important is constant change and evolution in your work?
It's important to be aware of what’s going on in the industry and listen to your customers for what they are looking for; but always, always be true to yourself, and don’t get tempted to follow a trend.
How important are Michelin stars to you?
Born and bred in France, Michelin has and always will be very important to me but I try to always remember without customers there wouldn’t be any Michelin. That means for me to always make sure the restaurant is busy, and keep maintaining and improving on standards, which is the basis of what Michelin represents.
What’s next for you and Hibiscus?
As mentioned, to try and keep busy, and always keep moving forward – it’s a very hard market in London, there is so much choice.