Russell Bateman

Russell Bateman

Russell Bateman

Russell Bateman has worked with an array of the world’s greatest chefs, training under Marcus Wareing, Marc Veyrat and Daniel Clifford, to name but a few. Now at the helm of Gordon Ramsay's Pétrus, he executes beautiful, bold plates using the freshest of ingredients to a Michelin-starred standard.

Russell Bateman’s interest in cooking was sparked at an early age. Although there were not an excess of quality restaurants in Hayes, the suburb of West London where he grew up, his grandparents were a strong influence. He remembers the fresh crunch of the vegetables his grandfather grew and the smell of fresh bread his grandmother used to make. His grandfather also brewed his own ale and although Russell Bateman never got to try any, the ceremony of him proudly opening a new batch is a fond memory.

He already knew what he wanted to be when the careers officer asked. His work experience placement was in a small Mediterranean restaurant, Tutto, run by Stephen Scuffell who was then chairman of the Craft Guild of Chefs. Russell Bateman loved what he saw: ‘The camaraderie, the tension, the hard physical work, the openness, the uniforms, the size of the place and most of all the food. I finally had a chance to learn something I was actually interested in. Stephen offered me a part-time job – I took it.’

Catering college followed, and a position at Harrods in Knightsbridge. While there he visited The Oak Room run by Marco Pierre White and a passion for dining out was born: ‘I was seventeen years old and I was hooked.’ His next job was at Chapter One where in head chef Paul Dunstane he found his first mentor. ‘I still consider Paul a good friend and someone I owe a lot to.’ When Dunstane left to work at Chez Nico – the legendary Nico Ladenis’ flagship restaurant – he took Russell with him. He says he struggled in this position, his every error picked up by executive head chef Paul Rhodes, but despite the hardship he looks back on the experience with pleasure: ‘I know now he was helping me, shaping me, moulding me and preparing me for my next challenge.’

That next challenge came in the form of Marcus Wareing, who oversaw St James Street – the original venue for Pétrus. Working there for more than two years, he helped open Fleur, The Savoy Grill and Pétrus’ new venue at The Berkeley. He says the work was difficult and gruelling, but that it was here that he really learnt to be a chef: ‘To cook, to taste, to practise, to perfect, to work, work and work some more. I never thought it at the time, but I owe Marcus Wareing a huge debt of gratitude.’ Although Russell Bateman is generous with his praise of all the outstanding chefs he has worked with, it is still Marcus Wareing that he considers the greatest influence on his cooking style, and on him as a person.

He continued moving onwards and upwards, working for a year with renowned chef Marc Veyrat at his eponymously named three-Michelin-starred restaurant La Maison de Marc Veyrat, in France. Every morning at 4.30am they went out into the Alps, picking herbs and wild flowers for use in the restaurant. The food here was born completely of the surrounding environment – ten years before Danish restaurant Noma popularised this ideology. He says: ‘This was Marc Veyrat’s great passion and one you see reflected on so many of today’s menus. He truly is the godfather of this style and that should not be forgotten.’ On returning to England he took up a position at The Capital Hotel under Eric Chavot, before moving onto Danesfield House Hotel in Marlow under Aiden Byrne and Midsummer House in Cambridge, working with Daniel Clifford. In 2007 came his first head chef role, at The Feathers Hotel in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, where over the next two years he learned the trade of managing a kitchen, rather than just cooking in one, and the variety of skills that entails.

Always pushing to grow and develop as a chef, his next move was to a head chef position at the esteemed restaurant Colette’s – the flagship eatery at luxury hotel The Grove in Hertfordshire. Russell spent several years there working closely with the head gardener, making sure the fresh produce that reached his kitchen was the best it could be. Better ingredients meant that the food could be simplified, with components of quality the star of the show, rather than convoluted technique. The estate’s seasonal offerings were showcased on small plates such as his Fine herb tart canapé and Scallop with radish, avocado and vanilla butter, as well as more substantial dishes like Roasted foie gras with strawberry and Veal fillet with girolles, apricot, spring onion and green almonds. Desserts – honed during his time on the pastry section of Marc Veyrat’s three-star restaurant – included a delicate Strawberry and almond tart. In 2018 he left Colette's to return to Pétrus as head chef.

In 2014 he was named National Chef of the Year by The Craft Guild of Chefs, coming full circle from his first ever kitchen position at Tutto. Russell’s culinary influences are broad, taking in foods from a variety of countries, experienced both here and abroad. His winning menu at the competition showed this diversity, starting with oyster panna cotta with scallop tartare and celeriac (described by competition mentor Alyn Williams as one of the best dishes he has ever eaten) followed by Roasted veal sweetbreads with garam masala, creamy girolles, turnip and black garlic purée. Dessert was an extravaganza of chocolate, marshmallow and tuile.

Russell Bateman has showed drive and determination over the course of his career, always striving to better his understanding of food, his cooking and his kitchen management. Having trained with an incredible roster of some of Britain’s – indeed the world’s – greatest chefs, he now executes beautifully fresh plates, very much in his own style, with creativity and flair. But characteristically, he continues to push. Having left Colette's to return to the Michelin-starred Pétrus, we're excited to see what his talented mind can come up with in the kitchen.