Ollie Templeton

Ollie Templeton

Ollie Templeton

Brought up in Spain, Ollie Templeton moved back to the UK as a teenager to pursue a career as a chef. After cutting his teeth in the kitchen at Moro, he set up Carousel – a restaurant and creative hub in London – along with his brother and cousins, where he both serves his own menu and hosts an ever-changing line-up of guest chefs.

More so than most other careers, chefs tend to be a real amalgamation of all the people they’ve worked with in the past. Whether it’s picking up certain techniques here and there, being influenced stylistically, or simply learning how to stay organised, every kitchen that a chef works in will mould them in some way. Ollie Templeton has always been determined to continue learning from other chefs, even after opening his own restaurant and events space Carousel. That’s why, as well as serving a menu of his own at Carousel’s wine bar, he also hosts a revolving line up of chefs from around the world, who continue to inspire him.

Ollie grew up in the south of Spain, meaning that he was surrounded by food from a very young age, ‘food is a real focus in that part of the world,’ says Ollie, ‘evenings were always centered around dinner and we’d have loads of barbecues. I remember eating lots of amazing tomatoes and courgettes, just kept really simple.’ By the age of fifteen, Ollie had started taking an interest in cookery, with Moro’s cookbook in particular proving to be particularly influential on him (‘I’d say that book was quite instrumental in me deciding to become a chef’), and he also began growing his own vegetables and herbs at home, ‘I was really interested in the idea of growing different herbs,’ he says, ‘I grew ten different varieties of basil and it meant that I could make food which no one else in the neighbourhood could because you couldn’t buy things like Thai basil.’

The idea of working in a professional kitchen began to appeal more and more to Ollie during his teens (‘it was the creativity of it and the fact that you could work with your hands which really appealed’) and after finishing school, he decided to move to London to pursue a career in cookery. He initially undertook a course at Leith’s cookery school, during which he also did placements at Sketch and Caravan, but rather appropriately, given his obsession with its cookbook growing up, his first full-time position came at Moro in Exmouth Market, ‘working at Moro definitely had a real imprint on my style,’ says Ollie, who joined the team aged just nineteen, ‘the food there is ultimately a protein, a carb and a really nice sauce or salsa but everything was just so tasty. There was also a real family feel there, which I could relate to.’

After two years in the kitchen at Moro, Ollie took some time out to go travelling and came back four months later unsure of exactly what he wanted to do next. He returned to Moro part-time before doing stints at a couple of other Spanish restaurants in London, but a conversation with his brother and cousins soon changed everything for Ollie, ‘we were all in a car together on the way back from holiday and none of us were feeling particularly inspired to return to our jobs,’ he explains, ‘my uncle suggested we all did something together and by the time we’d got home, we’d come up with the idea for Mile High.’

Mile High ended up being the first food concept that Ollie ran with his brother Ed and cousins Anna and Will, and was in essence a pop-up, immersive, tongue-in-cheek experience, themed around 1950s air travel, 'it was a bit of fun,’ says Ollie, who would cook a menu inspired by the destination of each fictitious flight, ‘but it was also a big success and we sold out loads of events.’ Following this success, the cousins were all set to push on with plans to grow their food-cum-events company but were stopped in their tracks when the opportunity came along to take over a space permanently on Blandford Street, which would need to house a restaurant of some kind. The four of them decided to take the plunge, and the space went on to become the first iteration of Carousel.

‘At the point where the site came along, I’d only been cooking professionally for two years,’ says Ollie, ‘there were still things I didn’t understand or know how to do. I wanted to go and travel around doing stages in Copenhagen and places like that. So, we thought ‘why not just do a restaurant, where instead of me going and doing stages, we just bring the chefs to us?’ The idea of just constantly inviting different chefs felt really cool to us and I think I still is. I didn’t feel ready to put my name to a restaurant of my own and this felt like the perfect middle ground. Plus, there was also plenty of space to continue doing events.’

Carousel launched in 2014 and since then has played host to over three-hundred different chefs from more than fifty countries, becoming known as London’s go-to spot for chef residencies. These chefs don’t totally takeover the space though; they work alongside Ollie, allowing him and his team to learn from them, ‘That’s always been the main goal for me,’ he says with a smile, ‘and I’ve learnt from every single chef we’ve hosted.’ All this experience has also influenced Ollie’s own food, which initially just formed the basis of the lunch menu at Carousel on Blandford Street, but has since gone on to become a larger part of the offering.

In 2021, Carousel relocated to a larger site on Charlotte Street, where all sorts of chefs continue to do residencies; however, Carousel mark two also features an all-day wine bar, which solely serves Ollie’s own menu. Inspired both by his time growing up in Spain, his travels and also the plethora of different chefs he’s worked with, Ollie’s food is very much Mediterranean in feel but also champions seasonal British produce, ‘by the time we opened on Charlotte Street, I had a very clear idea of the food I wanted to serve,’ he explains, ‘the aim is for the menu to be punchy but super approachable. Every dish has to be able to stand on its own two feet but also needs to harmonise with everything else.’

Until it moved home, the focus had always been very much on the guest residencies at Carousel, and whilst they still form a core part of its identity, the launch of the wine bar in Fitzrovia has finally allowed Ollie to really showcase what a fantastic chef he is in his own right. By staying humble and letting other chefs be in the spotlight at Carousel, he’s been able to quietly spend years learning and absorbing knowledge, and all this experience now shines through in his own food.