Ahead of the opening of Dickie’s Bar, we caught up with the man behind it, Richard Corrigan. Chef patron of Corrigan’s Mayfair and Bentley’s Sea Grill, he’s won two Michelin stars, numerous awards and has appeared on the likes of Great British Menu and Great British Food Revival. We talk cocktails, secrets to success and how the restaurant industry has changed.
You’re opening Dickie’s Bar in June, why did you decide to open a new standalone bar?
Quite frankly I have always been a barfly and enjoy an intelligent tipple, also I believe that you need to constantly be evolving and this was a challenge I have wanted to meet for some time now.
You’re working with Gregory Buda, the mixologist from Dead Rabbit – how did this collaboration come about?
When you decide to do something, make it count and do it well, they’ve won ‘Best Bar in the World’, three times…well it’s no coincidence, I want to only work with the best!
We’re headed to Dickie’s Bar – which cocktail should we order?
Try something from our highball seasonal program, these are cocktails made with our own in- house sodas from our own farm produce. Ask for the Rhubarb and Ginger.
You’ve been in the restaurant industry for several decades, what would you say the secret to success in the industry is?
Constantly evolving and striving for excellence, keeping current, listen to your punters and look after your staff.
You invested in Virginia Park Lodge Estate in Ireland a few years ago. Was that a risk at the time? Two years in how is business?
The Virginia Park Lodge was, as everything worthwhile in life is, a risk. We have managed to turn it around and are reviving what I consider to be one of the most beautiful garden estates in Ireland. Guests can shoot and fish within the grounds, and over three acres have been cultivated to produce fruit, vegetables and herbs for my London restaurants. In short, the business is well.
Over a 100 years on, how have you managed to make Bentley’s such a success given that so few old and established restaurants struggle to survive in this competitive industry?
Keep the message clear and simple to all, beautiful, wild FRESH fish and seafood served by people who are passionate in what they do. We won the Food & Travel ‘Timeless Classic Award’ last year that makes me so proud.
Having been in the industry for so long, you must have seen the rise of many successful chefs, which up and coming chefs should we keep an eye out for?
Ross Bryans and he is part of our team in Mayfair as a chef director.
Do you have a number one rule in the kitchen that you cook by?
Yes, start with the BEST produce and do not over complicate dishes.
How would you say the restaurant industry has changed since you started?
In many ways, chef used to be classically trained, cooking in a bag was a no no, tweezers were for picking salmon bones and we didn’t have to think of the photogenic appeal of every dish.
Are there any food phases that you’re glad to see the back of and any trends you wish to revive?Everything is a cycle, what is old is new and old in a matter of minutes again, it’s life.
When you have time off where do you like to eat out in London?
At home, I rarely get a moment to stop and have a bite with my wife Maria and the kids, if they are not busy themselves.
What would we find in your fridge?
Sometimes not much as I am constantly on the run.
We can’t cook but are hosting a dinner party – what should we cook?
Beef Wellington, buy the pastry, just as good sometimes, also wrapped means less chance you will overcook it. Throw together a fresh garden salad, what could be simpler?
Do you have a motto or mantra that you live by?
Don’t wait for miracles to happen, work hard and create your own magic!