The British and the Australians like a savoury breakfast according to Bill Granger, who is credited with introducing London’s most popular vegetarian breakfast of an avocado on toast. Granger is a native Australian from Melbourne, he has been a restauranteur, chef and food writer for 25 years. Today Granger & Co or Bill’s have seven venues in Tokyo, three in Australia, three in Seoul, four in London and one in Hawaii;80% of the intoxicatingly delicious menu is shared between continents, with slight seasonal and local preferences. In Japan they love carbohydrates, especially pasta; in Australia and Seoul they prefer stronger spicier flavours while UK goes for grilled proteins and salads.
Granger originally came to UK to promote his cookbook and appear on a TV show Bill’s Food, since those days he has been a judge on an episode of Masterchef, Britain’s extraordinarily popular competitive cooking show; Granger says the drama and built in tension of cooking is something viewers can really get into. He recalls the tension when he took part in a cooking competition called Perfect, winning the green curry award.
He decided to stay in UK for an adventure, he describes his culinary mindset as global, a relentless traveller he is always exploring markets and local restaurants, he says “I’m always eating, my hobby is my job.”
Granger is not into fine dining, he is not faddish about food, freshness, sunshine and health are what matter to him. He prefers to dress his dishes not cover them with sauces, using dressings of oil, citrus and vinegar at the last minute, his dream food is a lemon.
All Granger’s restaurants have three menus every day; the breakfast menu favourite is ricotta hotcakes with banana and honeycomb butter, there is a sweet and savoury bakery menu and new takes on the traditional breakfasts, the black lentil daal, chilli, curry leaves, coconut yogurt and cauliflower rice, with or without a poached egg. The present lunch menu is a miscellany of world cuisines interpreted into Granger’s mouth-watering combinations, at a glance I can see Japanese, Lebanese, Thai, Szechuan Chinese and South Indian influences. The dinner menu is less vegetarian with more unusual BBQ dishes and delicious puddingsincluding the inevitable Pavlova.
Granger says all the flavours combine in his head and inspire him during his bi-annual development sessions. He and his development chef Louis disappear into creative mode twice a year, they cook experimentally for a week, swop notes and experiment for another two weeks until they perfect the recipes for the next six months. The Granger team are young and smart, he expects them to share his values and be independent, the cocktails and coffee chef Andy is presently in Costa Rica, understanding coffee and soaking up new ideas.
A family man Granger has a breakfast of eggs and fruit at home with his wife Natalie, the firm’s Strategy and Marketing Director and his three daughters, then a glass of coffee in one of his restaurants, followed by avisit to the gym. His eyes sparkle, his skin is clear and he talks passionately about food, he is the personification of a healthy diet.
Granger is somewhat of a perfectionist, he asks for a ¾ Latte coffee,when a full glass arrives he politely asks again for a ¾’s full glass. Granger confesses he is not only obsessed by food but also by interiors, all his restaurants and his home are designed by the Sydney design studio of Meacham Nockles; the large glass windows bring the outside inside with green plants and warm woodwork creating an atmosphere of casual conviviality, no surprise the restaurants are permanently packed.