|There's A New Chef In Town|
We find out why Wesley Smalley left Jean-Christophe Novelli to join Charlotte's Bistro
What sets a restaurant apart?
Here in Chiswick it has to be more than responsibly sourced or locally produced food, or seasonal dishes on the menu, that's expected. It has to be more than just good customer service, which should be a given, and of course it has to be more than a big name above the door, just ask Mr Ramsay.
No, it's that certain something that completes the package, which makes diners faced with so much choice want to return to the same place again and again.
The reason why Charlotte's Bistro does this for me is the combination of an informal family run restaurant, good value for money and exceptional food prepared by Wesley Smalley.
Wes recently arrived at Charlotte’s Bistro after being Jean-Christophe Novelli’s right hand man for the past seven years. “The first few years are really exciting,” said Wes. “You work really hard and learn so much and I gained a lot of recognition but it was for Jean-Christophe. I wanted to be somewhere where I gained recognition for myself and my food and coming to Charlotte’s Bistro has enabled me to do that.”
His food is imaginative without being fussy, managing to create depths of flavour using simple fresh ingredients. Dishes showcase carefully selected seasonal ingredients and, as part of their commitment to sustainability and local produce, they source only high quality English and Welsh meat, their fish is delivered daily direct from Cornwall and most of their fruit and vegetables come from Andreas on the other side of Turnham Green Terrace.
Wesley Smalley found his passion for food while living in Hong Kong as an 8 year old, while his father was serving in the armed forces. Captivated by the fresh exotic fruit and vegetables from the open street vendors at the local market of Stanley, he initially learnt how to use those flavours when cooking with his mother.
After working in Spain, Thailand and Australia where he was able to develop his European style of cooking with an Asian and Australasia influence Wesley returned to his hometown of London to become part of the acclaimed Ivy restaurant under Chef Director Mark Hix.
In 2003 he began his partnership with the Michelin starred chef Jean-Christophe Novelli, securing the position of head chef at his eagerly anticipated, “Return to London” restaurant, Novelli in the City. It was here that Wesley was given the task of designing seasonal menus where his worldwide influences shone through and won him 3 AA rosettes within the first year.
As Jean-Christophe’s head chef, Wesley was given great opportunities to help with television shows and other publicity including Hell’s Kitchen, ‘In her Shoes’ film Premier and the much loved and supported BBC Good Food Show Live, also TV related travel which included Singapore, Dubai and Moscow.
After three successful years, it was time for Jean-Christophe to move into new ventures taking Wesley with him and appointed him Executive Chef of A Touch of Novelli. After the first year of trading, he rose to the position of Director of Food for A Touch of Novelli restaurants, making him responsible for all planned restaurants including the second addition, The French Horn in Steppingley.
“I used to live in Chiswick,” Wes said. “So it’s really like coming home for me and I wanted to work at an independent family run restaurant, you don’t get many husband and wife teams owning restaurants these days, but Charlotte’s is just that.”
Charlotte's Bistro, which opened in February 2010, and is the sister to Charlotte’s Place in Ealing which was originally founded in 1984. “We are proud to be independent and local family owned to this day,” said Alex.