The Opening

Story

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26-year old chef Tom Sellers opens his first restaurant next month. So why is it already the hottest table in town?

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Expelled from school at 16, Nottingham-born Tom Sellers went on to earn his stripes working with Michelin Star chefs Tom Aikens and Thomas Keller. Now, fresh from a stint at René Redzepi's fearless Nordic restaurant Noma, he's ready to set up shop in London. Story doesn't open until April 16 but Sellers' already got thousands of foodies fighting to get through his door...

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Over 5000 people tried to get into your pop-up Foreword last year and there’s a lot of buzz around Story. It must be a very exciting time for you.
Yes it is, of course. It’s kind of surreal in a way; I’m very humbled by it. The response I’ve had has been overwhelming in terms of people that want to come to my restaurant - we have like 500 phone calls a day. It’s been amazing.

Why do you think there is so much interest?
I don’t know really… It’s probably the story as a whole. I think one, my CV; two, my age; three, the location; and four, how I've gone about my business. I think they’ve all played a part in this becoming, I guess, a restaurant that everyone wants to come to.

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You’ve worked with some amazing chefs. Have they influenced the menu at Story, or should we expect something completely different?
I think you should expect something completely different. Obviously there will be, in the foundations of my cooking, influences from all of them, but it’ll be nothing you'll see. My food is very much my food, it’s taken a journey on it’s own. Which I wanted. I didn’t want to become over influenced.

Tome-Sellers-in-park

Is there a meaning behind the name Story?
Yeah, I’d decided the name when I was about 17 and it’s not changed. There are so many angles you can look at it from in terms of the restaurant - and food, where there’s a beginning, middle and end. It’s also ‘my story through food’; what’s influenced me personally and professionally, plus the history of food and the stories behind that. [At Story] there are a lot of plays on the history of food in this country; the menu starts and finishes with bread which is very classic English. And there’s porridge on there which was a staple for most people. It’s seasonal, it’s British, and it all has a meaning behind it.

Can you tell us about the dishes you’re most excited about?
All of them! I’m excited about everything. Obviously my [beef dripping] candle - people were going a bit crazy for that when I did it at the pop-up.

And what kind of vibe are you hoping to create?
Quite a laid back, bubbly, playful atmosphere. I don’t take myself too seriously - I’m still quite young so I want that to shine through the restaurant. I want it to be a place that people feel relaxed in, where they can just enjoy themselves.

So how does someone get a table at Story?
[laughs] Pray? I don’t know! The normal way is to call the restaurant, or try and make a reservation online…

Where’s your favourite place to eat at the moment?
Probably Jose on Bermondsey Street for tapas, it’s right by where I live and it’s great food - simple, quick, and it tastes great. Or I’m a sucker for a burger, so MEATLiquor or Honest Burger. I’m very straightforward! I go for cheeseburger and fries, a coke and a side of chicken wings. It’s not like the live ants at Noma.

Opens April 16, 201 Tooley Street SE1 2UE, restaurantstory.co.uk

Interview by Stephanie Soh