Spencer Metzger: The Ritz 'has really changed' in the last six years

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor

Spencer Metzger is the head chef at The Ritz, the iconic London hotel whose restaurant has held a Michelin star since 2016

The 2019 Roux Scholar is a fervent competitor, and this year put himself out there for the whole nation to see on the BBC's Great British Menu, where he has been representing London and the South East.

Although Spencer's surname means "butcher" in German, his family's background in food stops there, he explained in an interview with The Staff Canteen.

"None of them do food whatsoever," he smiled. "They like eating it, that's about it."

In a lucky series of events, the first kitchen Spencer stepped into was The Ritz, aged fifteen, and that is where he has worked since.

John Williams MBE

The support he has received from the hotel's executive chef John Williams MBE has helped him further his career to no bounds, he said, and his mentorship is something he continues to enjoy to this day. 

"He's been around for so long and worked in so many different kitchens, his knowledge is unbelievable. I can always rely on him to go to for any advice.

"He's still pushing here, he's still pushing the team and we work really well together, so it's great to have him as a mentor."


After he won the Roux Scholarship in 2019, Spencer went on to stage at Frantzén, the ultra-modern three Michelin-starred Stockholm restaurant headed by chef Björn Frantzén.

As soon as he sat down at Frantzén, he said: "I was like, 'phoar, I need to see this, this is the place for me,' because it really is what I love about hospitality, what I love about food. The whole concept, the whole experience was just mindblowing."

"It opened my mind up to think about the guest experience, to think about everything that happens behind the scenes, that people don't really realise when they're sat in the restaurant - how to enhance it, how to make sure it's smooth, how to give them a little surprise along the way." 

The food, whilst classically-based, exposed Spencer to ingredients and techniques he had never even heard of before, some of which he brought back to The Ritz.

"There are parts of it that you can't translate to the Ritz, but you can adapt and take inspiration from and use them here," he explained.

"The Ritz in the last six years has really changed; it's very classical in its base and we're proud of that, we really try and show that off, but there are really modern touches.

"People don't want to eat the same way they did 15-20 years ago. The food was very heavy, very rich. We still have those amazing flavours and those bases but you have to enhance them, you have to lighten them, you have to modernise them to keep up with everyone else."

That having been said, the chef is clear that The Ritz isn't about to reinvent the wheel.

"You have to hold on to its heritage, remember the house that you're cooking in, because the room really does dictate the style of cuisine, the style of plates, the style of everything," he said.

"When you walk into the hotel, you know where you are, so you have to live up to that expectation and also go beyond that."

At the hotel and in his own career, the chef has no intention of straying too far from classical fine dining.

"I love this style of cuisine," he said. "I don't think I would ever change if I was here or anywhere else. I love using the classical base, using prime ingredients from all across the world and using the best of the best during the season." 

"Classic cuisine is rooted inside of me," he said, "that's what I like. I'm now developing how I like to present things, cook things, finding new techniques, but it's all centred by that classical foundation, which is so important."


Taking the Ritz into the future

The chef is all smiles and positivity, despite a tough two years for the industry. He and his team returned after the successive lockdowns with an eye to the future. 

And while issues like the rising cost of food affect them as much as anywhere else, the chef does not intend on letting this, or any other concerns, get in the way of their progress. 

"Yes, we are a brand and we are The Ritz, but we have a very good value for money - and whether you're coming here for afternoon tea, for lunch or for dinner, I like to think that for what you will get, you get your value for money," he said.

"It's not cheap, and nowhere is now, but I think that we provide a service, we provide a quality of food, we provide luxury ingredients, and that's what you want to get for your money."

"Yeah, things are expensive, we've had to take some costs, we've had to increase some costs, but the whole of the UK's had to do that as well."

As the hotel is under new ownership, the chef promises that there are exciting things in the pipeline for The Ritz restaurant - though he is coy about the details.

"Over the next few years, we've got a massive project happening, and The Ritz will be in the strongest place it's ever been at the end of it, which is an amazing thing to be a part of."

One might wonder why any chef would ever vacate a position in such a prestigious establishment, and Spencer has no intention of doing so in any near future. 

"I'm very happy and content at the moment at The Ritz, I'm excited to see what happens in the future. But I would never rule out doing my own thing and flying the nest."

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 29th March 2022

Spencer Metzger: The Ritz 'has really changed' in the last six years