‘When an amazing ingredient comes into the building, Jack knows exactly how to make it the best. Whereas, I become obsessed with these crazy ideas’

The  Staff Canteen

In this week's episode of Gilled by The Staff Canteen co-host Frances Atkins, chef-owner of Paradise Café, and her two guests Will Murray and Jack Croft, of Fallow Restaurant, discussed, the death of Alistair Little, growing up with food, and the origins of Fallow

The loss of Alistair Little

Ahead of talking about the podcast guests' hospitality journey and the conception of a new restaurant, the chefs paid tribute to a true ‘pioneer’ of British cuisine, Alistair Little.

Frances said: “I think he was amazing. I remember going to his first restaurant in Soho, when he opened it, and he really was such a creative chef. He always had something different, something exciting on his menu and he really was one of the chefs that haven’t really had their full recognition. He was terrific.”

While neither Jack nor Will ever had any direct connection to Alistair, they both discussed how he impacted them. Jack, whose father was also a chef, said: “I never ate his food, but I would have loved to.

“My dad went to his restaurant and always said it was one of his favourite meals. He pioneered that British seasonal frequently changing menu. A real pioneer of British food and it’s a real shame to lose someone like that.”

Despite being of a different generation, Will remembered reading his cookbook, which came out the same year he was born, and taking inspiration from it.

 “There have been so many amazing chefs before us, and the amount of learning, and the path, they gave us is huge. I grew up watching all these incredible chefs and now we see them in the restaurant sometimes.”

Becoming a chef

Despite working together and being close friends. Jack and Will had very different experiences surrounding food while growing up. Jack’s father was a chef and for a lot of Jack’s later childhood and adolescence was actually a chef director at Calcot Manor. On the flipside, Will’s parents couldn’t really cook at all.

“My dad definitely tried to warn me off it,” explained Jack. “But I think I had a natural skill and a natural passion and he saw that. So, he let me do my own thing and watched from afar - pointed me in the right direction.

“I'd say most of my career was very much guided by him and then after that, when that journey was over, was when I decided to move to London.”

Will’s experience couldn’t be more different, he said: "It couldn't be further from what my upbringing was really. My parents, they're not massively interested in food. it's only now that I've got a restaurant that their excited about food, to be honest."

He explained his passion for cooking shows and reading cooking books and found the food in those so much more interesting and exciting.

Will said: “In a way, I started cooking because the food I was getting at home was just non-existent.

“Then I went off to university and I just seemed to spend most of my day just getting ingredients and cooking. Very quickly it became ‘well, what am I doing studying when I know exactly what I want to do’. So, I finished uni and then got a job at an Italian restaurant as a kitchen porter down in Sheffield.”

Kitchen Odd Couple

The pair believe their different journeys actually helps them as a partnership and, while they might not have been the friendliest with each other at the start of their time at Dinner by Heston, the kitchen where they first met, they developed a friendship.

Jack explained he wasn’t Will’s first choice as a business partner, he had asked a few other chefs who turned him down, but they decided to give it a go and after many pop-ups, challenges, and a couple of different sites – Fallow is now flourishing in its permanent home on St James’ Market in London.

Describing their partnership, Will said: “Jack's got strength; which is sourcing ingredients and when an amazing ingredient comes into the building, he knows exactly how to make it the best. Whereas, often with me, I'll become obsessed with these crazy ideas.

“It's this bouncing back of ideas against each other. The little classical touches and changes Jack makes and it's that process that makes it so great.”

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 17th August 2022

‘When an amazing ingredient comes into the building, Jack knows exactly how to make it the best. Whereas, I become obsessed with these crazy ideas’