The first ever female head chef of the legendary Savoy Grill, Kim Woodward’s journey from her native Cheshire has been a series of right moves. Today, she heads up the kitchen at D&D London’s ultra chic and stylish stylish 100 Wardour Restaurant and Club. We find out what motivates her menu and her cooking life.
Where did you start on the road to Soho?
I was born in Crewe and I studied hospitality at South Cheshire College where I realised that being a chef was what I really wanted to do. I was lucky enough to be sent to Missouri by the college where I worked in a massive restaurant, three restaurants really. In that kind of place you have to really work fast and think on your feet and my five years there was certainly a part of getting me to where I am today.
What was it like being the first female Head Chef of the Savoy Grill?
I’d worked for Gordon Ramsay from 2007, first as a junior sous before rising through the ranks, and so taking over at the Savoy Grill felt just another career step. At the Savoy Grill you had to respect the past. It is a classic restaurant with things like the omelette Arnold Bennet, the Dover sole and other iconic dishes and it was my job to keep those up to standard, but also bring in some seasonality, keeping it fresh and changing around the options.
100 Wardour is a bar, a club and a restaurant. How do you work out the menus?
I change the menu four a year times in line with the seasons. For me it’s about having a menu that runs really well with my team because consistency is very important. I try to figure out a menu which will attract everyone – fish, meat and vegetarian – and obviously steaks are always a winner. We have the Josper grill which really cooks steaks incredibly well and our fillet steak here is I believe second to none, certainly the best I’ve ever eaten.
How do handle the vegetarian side?
Vegetarian menus are very much what people want. I design dishes that will suit them – for example right now we do a nice cauliflower steak where we confit cauliflower in a truffle oil, then add a truffle crumb, pickled walnuts and fresh truffles on top. For me it’s all about, flavour, seasonality and being a long way from nut roasts. As a chef I am happy creating amazing new dishes that I’ve never made before.
What’s the most popular dish right now?
I’d say the pastas, they’ve only been on the menu for a few months, but they’ve really kicked off. Pappardelle with venison ragù, crispy kale, gremolata is a good dish and the crab linguine with spinach and chili is really lovely. It’s made with fresh Cornish crab that we get in whole, that way the team learn how to take a crab apart. Teaching skills for the next generation, I’m a huge fan of doing that.
Are you into sustainability?
Absolutely and as a company we are all doing it across all D&D restaurants, we try to recycle everything we can. Every station has a food bin and there is a main bin for clearing plates. we use food scraps from prep to make really great staff dinners.
It’s good that everyone is learning that there’s more you can do with waste. Even if it’s not eaten, it can be composted and come back as food. I think in the past there has been too much waste in kitchens and we are definitely tackling that. Times have changed and certainly here we’re really going green
What do you like best about working at 100 Wardour?
People aren’t just coming here to eat, it’s not just a restaurant. I have to cater for a bar crowd, a dining crowd and people who come for the great entertainment, the live music and the cocktail bars. It’s exciting and challenging.
All imagery used in this article credit: Nick Harman