Charlie Tayler

Charlie Tayler

Charlie was one of fifteen chefs selected for the programme and it would prove an important time for the development of his own food. Initially spending time at a Japanese language school before honing his skills and improving his knowledge of the cuisine at a culinary school in Kyoto, he was eventually placed in Kinobu – a fourth-generation Michelin-starred kaiseki restaurant. ‘It was just completely different to Western-style kitchens’ says Charlie. ‘Hierarchy is determined by how long you’ve been at the restaurant so the head chef had been there for over thirty years. Japan changed the way I looked at food, from the presentation to the way I teach people. One of the best things about being a chef is that you can’t 'complete' cooking; there is always something different to taste or a new culture to understand. That’s why it’s so interesting to go to a different country, discover new flavour or dishes, then put your own spin on it back home.’

Knowing that rising through the ranks was never a speedy process in Japan, Charlie came back to London as sous chef at The Westbury, before being made head chef in 2018. He was keen to incorporate the flavours and skills he’d learnt in Japan into his cooking, which Alyn Williams was happy to encourage. ‘Alyn never shied away from me introducing new flavours,’ he says. ‘Being given that creative freedom to cook what we wanted to cook was nurturing in itself.’ In 2020, having been at The Westbury for over four years in total over the course of his career, Charlie took the decision to move on and was soon offered the position of head chef at Simon Rogan’s eight-seat chef’s table restaurant Aulis.

At Aulis, Charlie has to juggle being both a chef and a host to the diners every evening – something completely different from his previous roles but which he excels at. ‘I feel like my personality fits Aulis quite well,’ he explains. ‘I can cook and chat at the same time, which I don’t think a lot of chefs can. It’s nice getting to meet new people every night and creating an environment where they can really enjoy themselves. We’re still very serious about the food but that’s where the seriousness stops.’ Whilst there is the odd subtle nod to Charlie's time spent travelling in his dishes, the food at Aulis is still very much focused around British produce, much of which comes from Rogan's 'Our Farm' in Cumbria. ‘The connection with the farm is such an important part of the restaurant,’ Charlie adds. ‘It’s amazing because when we get produce delivered, we know that it was picked the morning before in Cumbria especially for us. Not many other people in London can say that.’

Having spent the majority of his career working in traditional fine dining kitchens, it would have been very easy for Charlie Tayler to keep doing what he knew, rather than trying something a bit different. Instead, he took the plunge by taking charge of the kitchen at Aulis and has developed into a chef who offers more than amazing food – he's a cracking host too.