Category Archives: Interview

East Vs West London – Interview with West Londoner and Michelin Star Chef – Raphael Francois

Continuing the theme of East Vs West today I will be interviewing my friend Chef Raphael Francois about his love of West London. Raphael has spent the last 5 years as Executive Chef at the Connaught during which the restaurant gained two Michelin Stars. He has now left to concentrate on working on Rehoba a social network for professionals in the hospitality industry.

Raphael, what drew you to live in West London?

I would say that West London is a very “French” part of London with its rich areas, its football club like Chelsea, its shops, pubs with good food and where I live in Notting hill there is a nice easy going vibe which I really love.

When a person like me moves to a city that he doesn’t really know, the first thing he will do is choose to live where he heard about the most when being abroad.  I do  have to admit though East London has it’s qualities as well.

Where are your favourite places to go in West London?

I would say: Golborne Road with its nice antique shops and Portuguese coffee shop (they do a formidable double expresso). I also love the Latin, Moroccan and British atmosphere. It’s such a unique mix. Also I love Portobello Road’s cool market and nice soul, It all about the reggae beats!

Westborne Grove has lots of classy and trendy shops and a few nice places where it’s good to relax on a terrace.

Being a chef can you recommend good places to eat in West London?

Yes definitely, there are a few places where you can enjoy a good time with good glass of wine or cocktails and good food.

I would recommend:

  • Hereford Road, great chef, the food is simple but well made.
  • Commander for its oysters and a nice chilled Beaujolais
  • The Electric Cinema, unfortunately it  recently burned down, so be patient and wait until its reopening.
  • E&O funky cocktails and Asian food, it’s always packed!
  • Few pubs like Bonaparte and  The Cow.
  • Bastelica for the good pizza.
  • Porto on Golborne road, my favourite place to enjoy a good coffee.

On a Saturday night where can you be found to be hanging out?

Mostly I tend to head to Mayfair, but If I am not around there I can be find at, The Westbourne, E&O or Lonsdale Bar. But honestly, it just depends on my mood that day. London is full of so many great and different places it  is so easy to change an evening plan at the very last minute.

When you are cooking for friends where do you usually go to buy produce?

Without hesitation I would head to Portobello Market and few shops around there.

However, I must admit that sometimes I do go to East London as there are few very nice markets with amazing stinky French cheeses…it’s how we like it 🙂 When I am feeling creative, I’ve found Borough market is the secret to find unique products and to develop ideas.

Being a fashionable young man, what are your favourite West London shops?

Ha, ha, ha. I like the words “Fashionable Young Man”.

I would say “Dover Street Market” but there are so many!  I do have a “Coup de Coeur” for some brands like Vivienne Westwood, Balenciaga, Le temps des Cerises, Issey Miyake, Comme des Garcons, Maison Martin Margiela, Pierre Hardy, Kenzo, the list could go on and on. Fashion is definitely a part of my lifestyle but I don’t break the piggybank for it ;-).  Its cool sometimes to dress up but during the weekend I take it easy on the fashion.

Previously you lived in Paris, how do the two places compare for you?

For me the two places have their own charm. Paris is good for its coffee terrace and culinary culture. What I miss about Paris is in the morning going to the Café near my flat, reading  my newspaper of the day with a good coffee and croissant and then  going to pick up my daily “Baguette”.

What I love about London is that it is cosmopolitan city. Its melting-pot of cultures makes London one of the few cities where you feel at home very quickly. I am a proof; I have been here for almost five years now and not ready to go.

 Do you see yourself living in West London for the future?

Yes I do. I enjoy living in West London so will probably remain here for a while yet but who knows one I could be tempted to live in the countryside so only the time will tell.

What do you think? Is West London the best place to live?

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This post is sponsored by Westfield.