This month we spoke to Ollie Pudney, chef and co-founder of North London’s pub and restaurant The Bull & Last, who is celebrating a decade of custodianship. As our August Restaurant of the Month, you could win £150 towards a ‘last supper’ at the Hampstead gastropub before it closes for an extensive refurbishment at the end of September. All you have to do is enter on one of our social media channels (instructions under each post) and make sure you’re following us and @thebullandlast, winners will be announced on Friday 31st Aug.
The Bull & Last is well-known for its fresh, seasonal menu and perfect location on the edge of the leafy heath. Founded by Ollie and his business partners Freddie Fleming and Joe Swiers this is the trio’s second venture after having previously elevated the offering at the Prince of Wales pub, Putney in 2007.
Taking on a similar vibe, the two pubs ran together for two and a half years before the team decided to sell the Prince of Wales and focus on The Bull & Last.
For the last 10 years, Ollie’s humble approach and vision of creating a ‘relaxed boozer that does good food’ has attracted a host of dedicated chefs, some who have worked with Ollie for more than seven years.
Ollie explained that “chefs don’t want to be grafting for 17 hours a day for 6 days a week anymore and since we opened we’ve always given our kitchen team three days off a week; it should be the norm. We want our chefs to enjoy what they’re doing, and occasionally we just coax them in to cooking good food – we always have music on and just have fun”.
Ollie has been a longstanding customer and friend of Belazu since he first started at Richard Corrigan’s former restaurant, Lindsay House where they were using our ingredients more than 15 years ago. Although Ollie trained and worked at a number of fine-dining restaurants in the UK and abroad, he always had his heart set on opening a destination gastropub with rooms.
This relaxed art of cooking stemmed from his childhood, he grew up with a walk-in pantry at the heart of his family kitchen and he mentioned his “grandma would always have a pan boiling on the stove cooking tongue or livers or something” and, that their meals were always simple but really well thought out.
While Ollie was at school he worked as a Kitchen Porter during the evenings in his home town of Leigh on Sea in Essex and, one night the chef asked if he’d mind helping to plate up a few starters and the rest they say, is history. Having studied economics he always business focused mind but wasn’t interested in the 9-5 life so he enrolled at Westminster Kingsway catering college. Ollie and his fellow students – Stephen Williams, now head chef and co-owner of 40 Maltby Street and, Senior Sous Chef at River Cottage, Andrew Tyrell – (who he admits are some of the best chefs he knows), found themselves back at Southwark’s Hope & Anchor time and time again and loved everything about it, as well as The Eagle and took inspiration from each of these, their favourite pubs.
The gastropub is due to reopen in the second half of next year as a coaching inn, just like it was in 1843, with six en suite guest rooms and a B&B offering. The team has already taken bookings for a 2019 wedding and, Ollie promises that they won’t lose the warm neighbourhood feel or their popular signature dishes such as the Charcuterie Boards or the beef tartare but, the refurb will refresh the offering and allow them to create the dream destination pub with rooms that they’d originally set out to build 10 years ago.
Make sure you’re following the teams’ progress by following @thebullandlast Instagram.
Did you know Ollie’s favourite Belazu ingredients are …