Galvin brothers

Chris and Jeff Galvin

Galvin brothers

Encouraging these feelings of pastoral care, of developing new talent, is still just as important to the brothers as they manage their growing empire. From personally targeted staff development to their charity, Galvin’s Chance, which offers deeply troubled young people training and development for a career in hospitality; a desire to ‘give back’ is central to their work.

Their food is ingredient-led, with simplicity, passion and seasonality central to their cookery – 'the best ingredients we can find, treated simply,' says Chris. This attitude led to them championing cheaper cuts of meat (before it was trendy), even to them sleeping in their first restaurant to ensure they had access to the best produce, the moment it was available. They travelled all over England and France, buying direct, and have even created an annual award to recognise their prized and respected producers and suppliers.

Years of building relationships with these suppliers and market workers means they are not only well placed to get the first of the season’s bounty, but can also take advantage of any over-supply – even if this means processing five huge pallets of collapsingly-ripe strawberries that arrive unexpectedly on the doorstep.

This frugality is driven by a key tenet of the brothers’ ethos – affordability and the democratisation of food. An admirable drive to ensure that fine experiences are available to as many people as possible. No one is treated any differently in their restaurants – from the customer who just fancies dessert to those regulars who have returned hundreds of times.

And return they do for those dishes that have made the brothers famous. From their signature lasagne of Dorset crab – rich and decadent with a surprising pillowy lightness, to their soupe de poisson, served with a silky rouille and some excellent Gruyère. On the sweet side, their unpretentious and deceptively simple apple tarte tatin delights diners again and again, while their classic crêpes Suzette never fails to please.

The brothers are not as hands-on in the kitchen as their once were – one of their great talents is in nurturing talent, and that has left their restaurants in very good hands. Their legacy is not just built on the quality of their cooking and their exemplary dishes, but the new generation of chefs they have influenced, with grace and modesty.