Alex Bond and Oli Marlow: I just don't want to be judged or compared to someone else

The Staff Canteen

Alex Bond and Oli Marlow discuss incorrect perceptions people have about chefs, Their biggest regrets, and even the intricacies of a good crisp sandwich.

In this week’s episode of Grilled by The Staff Canteen head editor Cara Houchen was joined by co-host Alex Bond, Owner of both the Michelin-starred Alchemillia, and Mollis, and their guest Oli Marlow, Executive Chef of Roganinc.

During the episode, both chefs discussed everything from raising kids, to what food they don’t enjoy as adults, as well as their involvement in programmes such as the Great British Menu, a show that both chefs have been involved in the past.


Oli became a household name in 2021 when he featured in Series 16 of the Great British Menu, representing the London and South East region.

In the programme, he went head-to-head with Kim Ratcharoen, senior sous-chef at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay; Tony Parkin, head chef at the eponymous restaurant at The Tudor Room in Surrey and Ben Murphy, head chef at Launceston Place in London.

Not only did Oli secure a spot in the national finals but beat the Great British Menu record for the highest score across four courses: he received 38 points from veteran judge Paul Ainsworth and 38 from the sum of points awarded by Matthew Fort, Oliver Peyton, Rachel Khoo and guest judge Professor Chris Jackson.

Despite his impressive performance on the programme, Oli has ruled himself out of future competition for the time being.

“I like TV but I don't like competitions anymore. I think I've decided I just don't want to be judged or compared to someone else and it's finally dying down now,” he said.

Commenting on why this is the case, Oli explained: “You keep getting asked silly questions about this, that, do you enjoy it? What was it like? Would you do it again? It's almost nice to move on.”

He added: “I don't think I could do any better. Personally, I tried so hard for like three months to practice it and come up with the ideas, it's not something you want to keep doing because it's just sleepless nights.”

However, Oli admitted whilst he is no longer interested in being involved in competitions in the future, he did thoroughly enjoy his time on the show.

Oli said: “It's nice to meet loads of nice people. Like yourself, meeting you [Alex], met Tony for the first time. It's good to network.”

Alex, who also featured in Season 16 of the Great British Menu, admitted that he was also done with competitions, and that the programme was great for him and his restaurant.

“From my point of view its good for the restaurant,” stated Alex.

Commenting on how his second feature on programme gained more interest he said: “The first time around we didn't know because we were closed, so when it was aired we were in the middle of COVID so we didn't really see the benefit of it at all from the first year. For me it was pretty important to go back and do it again and getting further worked out really well I suppose."

He added: “We went from doing all right, and not having any results from it to then doing really well and then seeing the result.”


One of biggest frustrations for both Oli and Alex working in kitchens is when chefs suddenly leave or don’t turn up to shifts.

“In smaller restaurants when there's more things that can go wrong, if you've only got four or five chefs and someone doesn't turn up it throws a massive spanner in the works,” explained Oli.

Expanding on Oli, whilst drawing upon his own experiences, Alex said: "Our address is 192 degrees over precipice of chaos so all the time we're just teetering around the edge of it ready to fall in. Not so much now but in the beginning when there was five of us including me it was just chaos every day."

Alex added: “When you're dealing with people, you're always going to get problems. You're always going to get stuff like 'he's not here,' or 'do you know that guy who started yesterday? Yeah, he's not come back,’ stuff like that.”

Reflecting on starting a new job, regardless of the kitchen, Oli said: No job is easy for the first month, is it? The first month is always going to be the worst part, especially with that sort of like commis, chef de partie, where you don't know anything really.”

Oli added: "You're almost growing to learn what they expect from you and if it wasn't hard, it's not worth it."

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 10th October 2022

Alex Bond and Oli Marlow: I just don't want to be judged or compared to someone else