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Claude Bosi’s journey to becoming AA Chef’s Chef of the Year 2018

We speak exclusively to Claude Bosi about the awards and get his views on attracting and retaining talent.

2018 AA Chef’s Chef of the Year, Claude Bosi

We speak exclusively to the 2018 AA Chef’s Chef of the Year, Claude Bosi

“My first job in a professional kitchen was cleaning boiled kidney under fresh water.”

Claude Bosi has come a long way. He was literally born into the restaurant business in his native France. “It was really my parents having a restaurant already that made me want to do this,” he said. “Hospitality was the natural move when I had to decide what to do as a job.”

Talent and hard work have paid huge dividends for the feted Bosi. In addition to myriad awards, he can now add the AA Chef’s Chef of the Year 2018, and is proud to have once more sponsored this prestigious honour.

“I have been so lucky I’ve worked with those I would consider to be the best like Alain Passard and Alain Ducasse,” Claude said. “But most of all it would have to be my parents, who showed me that if you don’t work hard and put in 110 %, you will never succeed.”

Claude Bosi graduated from catering college and served his apprenticeship in Lyon before moving to Paris to Le Chiberta as Demi Chef de Partie. His next position saw him join Alain Passard at L’Arpège in Paris, starting as Chef de Partie, then climbing to Sous Chef. During this period L’Arpège moved from two Michelin stars to three. This was followed by nearly a year with Alain Ducasse in Paris, as Chef de Partie.

Claude came to England in November 1997 as Sous Chef, then Head Chef, at Overton Grange, south of Ludlow, Shropshire. The restaurant earned a Michelin star in 1999.

He then opened Hibiscus in 2000. The following year, the restaurant was awarded its first Michelin star, followed by a second in 2003. Claude sold Hibiscus in Ludlow in March 2007, and relocated to London. The 45-seat restaurant then launched on Maddox Street in Mayfair and soon gained legendary status. In late 2013, Claude bought out his investors, redesigned the interior to give it a more relaxed yet personalised feel, and added a Chef’s Table and development kitchen.

Changes in the industry

Throughout his time in the UK, Claude has witnessed the evolution of the industry. “There have been so many changes; the availability of produce is one that really excites me. The truly amazing restaurants that London has to offer compared to when I moved here, I really believe we have the most dynamic dining scene,” Claude said. “There’s also been a change in the attitude of chefs, we’ve had chefs in the kitchen who think they should be at a higher position after a really short time but perhaps that’s not so bad to have the ambition.”

Hibiscus went on to receive numerous accolades for its modern French cuisine: two Michelin stars, a 9/10 rating and #5 in the UK in the Waitrose Good Food Guide 2016, and five rosettes in the AA Restaurant Guide 2016.

Attracting and retaining talent

Claude believes that hospitality employers must work hard to attract and retain the talent they have. “This is very depressing, staffing is a real issue and I’m not sure I’ve yet worked out how to overcome it,” Claude said. “When I started, I had to do a trial to make sure I was motivated for this job. I think it might be easier to join the industry now, what worries me is that I’m not sure people want to join. You have to teach your team your knowledge, and make sure they are properly part of the whole. My team both front and kitchen, like all restaurants, work so hard. If they are not learning skills I’m not sure how it can be an interesting place to work.”

Claude is currently Chef Patron of Bibendum situated in the old Michelin headquarters at Brompton Cross for which he and his team continue to garner rave reviews across the board, not just from restaurant critics, but from other chefs.

Chef’s Chef of the Year

The AA Chef’s Chef of the Year, now in its 22nd year, offers all AA Rosette-awarded chefs the chance to decide which of their peers deserves the ultimate recognition of their performance over the past twelve months. Previous Chefs’ Chef winners include Simon Rogan, Daniel Clifford, Nathan Outlaw, Tom Kerridge and Pierre Koffman.

On winning, Claude said, “It’s definitely one of the best feelings to be recognised for what you are doing from people in my industry. When we saw the finalists we laughed, it was a list of some of my favourite chefs so, wow, that was cool.”

We congratulate Claude Bosi for a well-deserved win and wish him continued success.