10 minutes with: Ollie Templeton

The  Staff Canteen
Ollie Templeton travels the world in search of the best culinary masterminds to take up residency at his London based restaurant, Carousel, which he co owns with his brother and cousins. Coming in to its second year of opening the restaurant is cementing itself as one of the most intriguing concepts London has to offer with chefs from across the globe eager to jump on board. We spoke to Ollie to discuss his desire to get Gordon Ramsay to cook at Carousel, working with chefs whose CV’s were better than the reality and his dream of running his own restaurant in Spain. Ground Dressed 2 low resGrowing up with a family who loved to cook and eat good food, the kitchen was always the hub of the household in the Templeton home. From the age of 14 Ollie showed a strong interest in growing his own produce and cites Jamie Oliver as an early inspiration. He said: “I grew loads of different kinds of vegetables from the age of 14 until I left school. At the time I really loved Jamie Oliver and his cookbooks, at the back of his books there was always information on what feeds to grow tomatoes, basil, etc. “We had basil and a pine tree so I would crack pine nuts all day with my mates to make pesto which we would use with fresh pasta.” Losing interest in his studies, Ollie soon found his path into the industry after discovering the Moro cookbooks by Samuel Clark and Samantha Clark which led him to Spain.

>>> Read: Romy Gill is the first chef announced for Carousel in 2016

“I already knew I wasn’t going to go to university,” explained Ollie. “So I went to London which was when I got into the Moro cookbooks. I loved the recipes from Spain and that part of the world so I went to Moro and asked for a job and they offered me one!” Ollie left Moro after two years to go travelling with his mates before returning to the UK to work on a couple of ideas which led to Carousel.ollie quote He said: “By the time I came back I was broke so I went back to Moro for a couple of months before starting this pop-up called Mile High. My cousin Anna and I quit our full time jobs to work on Mile High which turned out to be surprisingly successful and that’s kind of how Carousel came about.” With an ever changing line up of guest chefs taking up residency, Carousel offers a unique dining experience like no other. Having opened just under two years ago, Ollie and the team have finally found their feet learning how to work with the resident chefs and how to best cater to their needs. “It’s been real hit and we’re really, really happy,” said Ollie. “We’ve worked with some awesome people and we’ve been learning a lot. He continued: “We’ve learnt how our restaurant works and we understand it a lot more. When we first started we just had the basics but now we have been researching everything so we can source what the chefs need because the type of food is constantly changing as well as the list of ingredients.” To ensure the food encompasses the chef’s style and personality, Ollie and the team work closely with the resident chefs on structuring their menus utilising seasonal produce at the core of their creations. He said: “It’s their menu and their food, the way we work together is they kind of mould into our team, that’s where the collaborative part of carousel is.” OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOllie added: “The whole thing is that these guests are coming to experience these chefs and their food and we’re just trying to elevate that experience. So we’re here to cook with them, have fun with them and to showcase what they’re about.” Aside from being head chef, Ollie also has the exciting challenge of curating the line-up and enticing chefs from across the globe to travel to London to share their signature dishes with Carousel’s enthusiastic diners. He said: “I have quite a fun job, I get to pick and persuade people to come to Carousel. It can be tough, especially if you’re going for a high standard restaurant as they can be really focused on what they’re doing so the lead-in times are often more than a year. “If I don’t get the time to leave the UK to try things I get recommendations from friends who work in the industry. I was in Stockholm on holiday with my girlfriend and while we were out there I was talking to all the chefs about food and trying to convince them to come to Carousel!” With Carousel building a strong reputation for itself in the industry, Ollie and the team are constantly on the look-out for fresh talent that embody Carousel’s ethos, even catching the eye of Gordon Ramsay! “There’s someone that we were really trying to get to work with who I met in Stockholm called Niklas Ekstedt. His kind of food is what we’re all about at Carousel. I would really love to work with him,” explained Ollie. "I would bloody love to have someone like Gordon Ramsay come or Heston Blumenthal, it would be epic. I think I would rather have Gordon Ramsay because he’s a fun guy. He nearly came to Carousel last summer but had to cancel at the last minute, maybe I’ll ask him again.” OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Having an endless line up of chefs take centre stage at Carousel, Ollie and the team have certainly come across one or two whose skills were more impressive on paper. He said: “I won’t say any names or talk badly about anyone but there have been a few where their CV was better than the reality. It was a shame but at the same time it’s not necessarily them or that they served bad food, it’s just that sometimes they would mess around with textures and flavours which can be a bit challenging if you’re eating a whole plate of it.” In the not too distant future Ollie would eventually like to settle in Spain with his own restaurant but not until he and his family have accomplished what they set out to do with Carousel. He said: “Our ultimate aim for carousel is to showcase and work with the best undiscovered and discovered chefs from around the world, bring them to London and offer the best food experiences. No one that I’m aware of is doing it, how we envisioned it, with the service, the layout and the atmosphere you get when you come here with the family. It’s all of those things and we never want to change that, it’s only the food that is changing.” By Michael Parker

>>> Read more in our 10 Minutes With series here

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 15th January 2016

10 minutes with: Ollie Templeton