> Chefs

Michael Bremner

Finally, it was time for Michael to set out on his own and open 64 Degrees. The doors opened in October 2013, but things started off a little slower than Michael would’ve liked. ‘I think in the first week we took something ridiculous like £1,000 and I thought I’d made a massive mistake. We hadn’t really advertised because I didn’t want us to be rammed, especially as the chefs were cooking, serving and talking to customers all at the same time. Business picked up a little bit, but then when Marina O’Loughlin’s review came out in The Guardian it basically changed everything. We went from being busy on Fridays and Saturdays to being rammed every night we were open. We even had to hire people just to answer the phones! When we started there were four of us in the kitchen and one front of house – now there are twenty members of staff. The food has come so far, and the team is so, so good at what they do.’

The dishes at 64 Degrees certainly fit in with Michael’s dream of having no boundaries on what the chefs can and can’t create. There’s a distinctly international feel to the ingredients and flavours, with dishes designed to be shared between people, ‘so no one gets food envy’. On top of this, diners are encouraged to talk to the chefs across the counter, so they can learn more about what they’re eating and see the dishes being prepared right in front of them. Over the years the restaurant – despite its small size – has become nationally renowned, and Michael’s eclectic style results in plates of food that don’t just taste amazing – they’re also fun to eat and offer plenty of variety. Take his Rum Bear, for instance; a dish conceived by Michael and his previous head chef Sam Lambert, which is an ingenious concoction of Haribo sweets melted down with lots of rum, set into jelly moulds and sprinkled with sherbet. ‘I think we started making the Rum Bears so we could eat them before a night out,’ he explains. ‘We would put as much rum into them as we could!’

If the review of 64 Degrees in The Guardian put the restaurant on the map, then it was Michael’s two appearances on the BBC’s Great British Menu that helped secure his status as one of the UK’s best chefs. Getting to the finals in 2016 and then winning in 2017 with his main course ‘The Grass is Greener’ ensured the phone lines stayed busy. ‘I absolutely loved Great British Menu – getting the chance to meet people like Daniel Clifford and Nathan Outlaw was amazing, and I really got on with other contestants like Tommy Banks,’ he says. ‘I’m not sure I’d do it again as it is such a lot of work and requires a lot of commitment, but when you get a score of ten off one of the judges it’s the best feeling in the world.’

After 64 Degrees and Great British Menu, it was time for Michael’s next project: Murmur, a second, more relaxed restaurant on Brighton’s beachfront. ‘I’d always wanted something on the beach so when Carla found a unit with zero premium that overlooks it we had to go for it,’ he says. ‘It was all her idea and she really spearheaded everything. We saw that Brighton was going through a real moment and there were loads of high-end, fine dining places to go to, but there weren’t many restaurants where you could take your kids and have something a bit more relaxed that wasn’t just burgers or fish and chips. I’m extremely proud of what everyone’s done down there, especially my head chef Josh who is doing a fantastic job.’

While Michael’s always got his eyes open for potential new opportunities, he’s certainly got enough on his plate for now. As Brighton continues its meteoric rise as a foodie destination, it’s clear 64 Degrees is one of the restaurants still leading the charge.