Masterchef S02 ep2 : Shane Osborn, Restaurant Pied a Terre, [London]

Interview with Shane Osborn

Ex-Australia Osborn's dishes keeps being confused as modern French by Haute Gallic gastronomes - strewth!


Osborn: The translation for … means a small place in town and we’re an independently owned
restaurant of around 45 seats, David Moore and myself do the day to day running of the business.

Osborn: David started the restaurant in 1991 and I came on board in ’98 as sous chef and then took
over the helm in January 2000.

Osborn: In 2002 we spent 180,000 redoing the restaurant and the private dining rooms. It wasn’t a
Michelin decision or anything like that, we just wanted to improve the service, improve the
ambiance and the style of the restaurant so we closed down for six weeks, did a renovation in the
restaurant and that following year Michelin gave us the nod and gave us two stars.

Osborn: Michelin for me, it’s a very important business thing and it’s a nice little notch on the
trophy cabinet but you know it’s not the be all and end all and I take it with a pinch of salt because
it’s having the restaurant full every day that really matters. Obviously having two stars gives you a
lot more attention and it brings you a certain kind of clientele as well, willing to spend a little bit
more money.

Jewellery Theatre Carravaggio

Osborn: My mum was a caterer so from the age of about 12, 13 I was working at weddings and
21sts you know peeling the carrots, just being the general kitchen porter and I just loved it and I did
cookery at school and then when I was 15 I did a two year work experience at a revolving
restaurant. That was just overcoming, it was just amazing, about 25kg bags of chocolate, you know
I could just help myself to it was just, I was like Willy Wonka going into his chocolate factory.

Osborn: That was 1991 and I came over and didn’t know anybody, just turned up at Heathrow, got
the visa at the immigration and just went to an agency and the agency put me out in the middle of
Essex and I mean I worked for a guy who was probably, I’d describe him as a burnt out chef, he’d
been there, done that, worked for Marco for six months at Harveys, done a few things here and
there, worked for Paul Gaylor and he was doing really good food, and especially going from Perth
with you know iceberg lettuce was still you know, the bees knees back in those days, so for me to
go from that cooking environment to go to the UK was just completely different.

Osborn: I was just seeing produce I’d never seen or heard of before, all these different lettuces, all
these different herbs and salads being filleting all the fish, making the ice creams, making the
breads and it was very good grounding for me going to that kitchen, there was five of us in the
kitchen doing you know 50 covers on the food, it was good. It was, very good sauces, everything
was made on site and that gave me a lot of core skills and I think it gave me the enthusiasm and
also the drive to want to do better and better myself, and while I was there we went to eat at
Harveys, that was a mind blowing experience going to Harveys at 20 years old in a really dodgy
suit with a dodgy tie and even the worst shoes, but we had a fantastic time and you know from then
I realised the level I really wanted to cook.

Jewellery Theatre Carravaggio

Osborn: Then what happened, I fell in love and went to Sweden, chasing the girls, and lived in
Sweden for two years, which was a nice experience but the food over there was quite dull and I
decided I wanted to come back to the UK so I had a friend working for Gordon and they were
opening up Lorengaire with Marcus Wareing so I came over and had an interview with Marcus and
I think in May or June 1996 moved back here and I’ve been in the UK since.

Osborn: Marcus is a technician you know he’s so precise, everything he does is, it’s almost like a
military operation, you know everything is absolutely perfection, I did I think nine or ten months
there and felt I’d learnt enough from there and decided I wanted to go off and do something
different. So after that I went to work for Phil Howard at The Square which was you know, miles
away from what Marcus did, much more almost rustic, not rustic I think that’s two stars, we got
two stars when I was there, and it was just brilliant food. For me that was probably some of the best
food I’ve ever cooked in any kitchen, it was just flavour and seasonality and just really nice

Osborn: I came here to work for Tom you know a lot of people warned, oh don’t go, he’s a nutter
you know he’s like the Tassie Tiger just you know spinning around throwing things all over the
place, but I came here and I saw the food and I thought, this is the place for me.

Osborn: Tom was there every single day pushing, pushing, pushing, wanting to do something that
nobody else did before and his way of placing and the way he creates his dishes, for me it was just
amazing and I wanted to be his brains for that and you know I worked beside him for two years.

Jewellery Theatre Elements

Osborn: There’s no other job like my job of just being in a kitchen, working with really passionate
people, not just with here in the kitchen, but … suppliers, producers of food you know, my venison
supplier, I’m on the phone to him, my fish supplier every day, second day, they’re the people that
really care about what they do and they care about the products and quality of food and when
you’re working in that industry with so many passionate people which we do at this level, it’s just
great, it’s so inspiring and the young kids that are in the kitchen doing their 16 hours a day, I like
being there to help motivate them and to be inspiring for them, so the food continues to evolve.

Osborn: Now is a great time of the year, I think probably the best time of a year for a chef because
you’ve got all the game coming in, we’ve got mallard, we’ve got grouse, we’ve got teal and
pheasants, partridges have just come in today, so it’s just a wonderful time and then you know all
the mushrooms, there’s just … and it’s just a beautiful time of the year to be cooking.

Osborn: And when you’re starting work at 7.00, 7.30 in the morning, you’ve got all the supplies
coming up, there’s that pressure of you getting ready for lunch and then just the adrenalin rush of
getting ready and making sure that you’re ready and then cooking the food, it’s just it’s wonderful
it’s a great experience, it’s probably the best drug in the world you could ever get I think, just
working in that environment.

Osborn: I was at a birthday party for a kid a couple of weeks ago and the woman said to me, so
what do you do, and I said I’m a chef, and she goes oh, horrible job that must be, and I said what?
And she goes but you work long hours, I said hang on love, I said, my job I love it to death, I said,
the only thing, the down side was I don’t get to see my family enough, but it’s not work for me, I
love it, it is who I am and I get so much enjoyment.

Osborn: The clientele, they want to see the food evolving, they don’t want to come back and have
the same dishes every season so there is that pressure, but I find that pressure gives me a lot of
drive and it’s not pressure that I can’t deal with and it motivates me to every season there will be
changes on the menu.

Jewellery Theatre Fairytales

Osborn: What people, what Heston’s doing is amazing you know I had a meal there last year and I
think I’ve eaten there every year for the last six years, last year was by far the best meal I’ve ever
had there and it was probably the best meal I’ve had in the last 2-3 years, it’s was just sensational.
Everything. And that’s what I like about what he’s doing, even though the dishes aren’t, the
menu’s not changing very often, but every year the dishes are evolving, he’s taking one step better
and you know he’s in search of that perfection as well, but what we do is very different, we have a
lot of regular customers coming here, once, twice, three times a week, sometimes for lunch and
then a lot of people coming back on a monthly basis so the menu has to evolve and it has to be
special, there has to be new things to entice people back and of course, there are always going to
be favourite dishes like the poached foie gras, that’s evolved a little bit since it was first brought on
the menu in probably 2002, and I’m always looking to try and better the dishes and you know once
you find something and you find a combination you find a flavour, leave it at that.

Osborn: I had a request about three or four years ago, a so called sister had rung up and said that
her sister was dying of cancer and that she’d eaten here a couple of months prior to getting the
cancer, she only had six weeks to live and she’d like a signed copy of the menu, if possible, and a
photo of me. So I thought you know ok I’ll ring her up, the sister, and say well where is she, I’ll
come and see her in hospital and I’ll bring her some chocolates, I’ll bring her some flowers, I’ll
bring a menu, blah, blah, no problem. Finds out she’s in the middle of Derbyshire, which is like a 3
hour, 4 hour journey from here, so I did a bit box of things up. To cut a long story short, I get out
there and there’s two nutcases that are probably, one was about 75 and the other one was probably
early 60’s and I walked into their council flat and there was pictures of me cut out from all the
clippings and that and her sitting in her nightie, and wanting me to sit on her knee while her 75
year old friend took polaroids of me. Yes, so I kind of locked myself into the bathroom and rang a
taxi and said it was quite a frightening experience, Jesus. It reminded me of the Misery movie,
with Kathy Bates and I was just waiting for the wheelchair to come out and

OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Shane Osborn, Restaurant Pied a Terre, [London]