Chef Tom Sellers has satisfied the public appetite by opening Restaurant Ours in Kensington, so can we expect another Michelin star to add to the one he won at Restaurant Story?
WORDS Alexander Larman
The restaurateur Tom Sellers has had an enviably successful career so far. His website might describe him with becoming modesty as ‘just the guy who cooks the food’, but after training with the legendary likes of Tom Aikens, Rene Redzepi and Thomas Keller, he opened his first restaurant, Story, in 2013 in Bermondsey.
In a city where innovation for its own sake is often sneered at, Sellers’s commitment to providing his guests with – quite literally – a ‘story’, made up of carefully chosen dishes that nodded to his earlier training while remaining entirely his own concoction, won critical acclaim and a Michelin star within five months of opening. Denizens of Kensington and Chelsea saw this and cried ‘When will Sellers return to his former stomping ground?’ Now, is the answer.
Sellers’s second establishment, Restaurant Ours, is designed on a different scale to Story. For one thing, it’s much bigger. Located within the site of what used to be the area’s most salubrious bar and nightclub, The Collection, Sellers is quick to note that he’s going to be known as the ‘Culinary Director’, rather than Head Chef (that will be Daniel Phippard, formerly of Kensington Place), but his questing spirit and innovation will be the defining impetus behind the restaurant.
As he says: ‘I have had a lot of input with the initial set up of the kitchen and the menu, and as part of that I wanted to create a place that was about more than food. Naturally dining will be a huge part of it, but the idea was to create a relaxed, casual experience for our guests to come with friends, or family and have a good time. Unlike Story, Ours has an a la carte menu, which means that diners can completely build their own experience. Ours will be somewhere you can visit several times per week should you wish as it’s much more casual.’
There is a next generation of diners who really care about food and we have designed a menu that will hopefully provide them with what they want to eat
As for coming to Kensington, he admits that ‘the site that we are opening on was the real draw – the decision wasn’t necessarily based on geography’, though he qualifies this by saying ‘we are really excited to be in an area with so much going on; for a while you had to look to East London for exciting moves in the industry, but there have been some really interesting openings in Kensington in the past year or so. I think the balance is shifting. There is a next generation of diners who really care about food and we have designed a menu that will hopefully provide them with what they want to eat.’
Of course, Sellers’s meteoric rise has ruffled a few feathers; to go from hosting pop-ups to opening a restaurant and winning a Michelin star at the age of 26 is rare, even in a business that prizes conspicuous success. However, as he said in a previous interview, ‘my critics just drive me on. It’s like anything; you turn the negatives into positives’.
A star isn’t the primary goal of Ours at the minute – the menu should consist of beautiful, seasonal produce that has been treated correctly. The Ours menu is lighter and healthier
Certainly, he’s not a man immersed in self-doubt; taking on somewhere the size and with the reputation (albeit for a ‘scene’ rather than its food) of The Collection is either bold or arrogant, depending on your perception. But it doesn’t bother Sellers. ‘A star isn’t the primary goal of Ours at the minute – the menu should consist of beautiful, seasonal produce that has been treated correctly. The Ours menu is also lighter and healthier as the idea is that diners can eat there regularly.’
He’s looking to the future – ‘I really enjoy what I do, so there might be more restaurants to come in future. Theme-wise, I want to create places that are memorable, and that make diners feel included’ – but he remains unpretentious at heart. When asked for his desert island dish, he responds: ‘Beans on toast and a cup of tea.’ Here’s to hoping Ours can offer similar simple pleasures – with a dash of SW3 sophistication.
264 Brompton Road SW3 2AS; restaurant-ours.com