'We really wanted to open a restaurant where we would want to go on our day off'

The Staff Canteen

Stephen Naylor is the head chef at Michelin-starred chef, Tom Sellers’, newly opened 'Story Cellar' in the heart of the iconic Seven Dials neighbourhood in London.

Stephen started in the kitchen alongside Phil Howard and Mark Kempson at W8. After four years as sous chef at Restaurant Story, he has stepped up and now looks after a team of 12 chefs at the rotisserie chicken, based restaurant.

"We really wanted to open a restaurant where we would want to go on our day off. With amazing wine, great food, great atmosphere – chef (Tom Sellers) has had the idea for quite a long time to base a restaurant around rotisserie chicken, so we created Story Cellar.”

Alongside the chicken you’ll find big bits of meat and fish on the grill and small sharing plates – the team are trying to create an amazing place for people to come and have a casual dining experience.

Stephen Naylor Story Cellar
Credit: CeriDavies.co

Stephen explained: “The food concept here at Story Cellar is quite a mixture. We’re based on French brasseries, a little bit of Story, a little bit of classic – the kind of food you just really want to eat and enjoy. Nothing with too much fuss, really simple and clean tasty flavours.

“The evolution of the food here has obviously changed with the seasons as well as us adapting some dishes to match this new environment. We’ve never been in a casual dining space before – Story is ultra-fine dining with two Michelin stars and five AA Rosettes. We’ve had to tone everything down here and make it more approachable for everyone who wants to enjoy, simple, classic flavours.”

Stephen Naylor Story Cellar


Going from sous chef to head chef can be a big step but Stephen says he has enjoyed the opportunity to build the new restaurant from the ground up.

He said: “Being able to be in the design meetings and see it go from an empty box to what we have here today has been an amazing experience.

“You are managing everything from the costings, the back of house and the team – rather than just managing the day to day, you have to manage everything a restaurant entails.”

He added: “I think the biggest challenge here was having the whole Story team come over while Story was under construction. We had to learn how to cook a completely different way, with a new kitchen and a new environment. But it has been an amazing time.

Stephen Naylor Story Cellar
credit: CeriDavies.co

“For the whole Story team to come here and do so well with the change of environment, change of restaurant and change of cuisine - everyone has absolutely smashed it.”

For Stephen, the most rewarding part of his role is to see happy guests leave at the end of the day. “Without them we don’t have a business, we don’t have a restaurant,” he said. “They can sit right on the counter and interact with us, and they can see the excitement and the joy that we bring to people just through our food.

“Success for us is having a full restaurant, happy guests, happy team and a restaurant that we feel is an amazing place to be.”

Reflecting on his journey in the industry so far, his advice to anyone looking to join hospitality would be take the first step and get yourself into a kitchen.

He said: “It doesn’t matter the standard or where it is or what type of cuisine it is – it’s about getting into that environment and learning. Show up every day with a great attitude, ask all the questions you can and always enjoy yourself in the kitchen.”

Stephen Naylor recipes banener

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 9th January 2024

'We really wanted to open a restaurant where we would want to go on our day off'