An interview with Bob Bob Ricard’s new Head Chef Tom Peters

Words by
Charlotte McManus

8th October 2020

Summer 2020 saw the Masterchef: The Professionals finalist take the reins at the iconic Soho restaurant, introducing both a revamped menu and several new dishes

As few London foodies need reminding, Bob Bob Ricard is somewhat of an institution. The Upper James Street space has stood as a bastion of indulgence, flamboyance and dizzying calorie counts ever since its doors first opened in 2008, proving so popular that 2019 saw the launch of a similarly OTT sister restaurant in the Bloomberg Tower, Bob Bob Cité. The original’s intimately lit décor references the plush interiors of the Orient Excess, all leather banquettes and gilt edgings, while the menu features revamped classics from both British and Russian cuisine. The booze is also legendary - vodka shots arrive chilled at -18 degrees celsius, while few can resist the allure of the "press for champagne" button installed at every table. 

In August, Tom Peters (previously of Maaemo in Oslo and Roux at Parliament Square) was announced as Bob Bob Ricard’s new Head Chef. The former Masterchef: The Professionals finalist has added a range of new dishes to Bob Bob’s offering, including a Stinking Bishop cheese souflle starter, while revisiting such established crowd-pleasers as the lobster macaroni cheese. For the brunch crowd, he has also installed a novel “Waffle and Bellini Hour”, served from 11am-12pm daily.

An interview with Bob Bob Ricard’s new Head Chef Tom Peters
Bob Bob Ricard’s signatures are well known – how did you put your own stamp on them?

The signature dishes of Bob Bob Ricard have become staples over the years. Many diners know what they’re going to order before even looking at the menu. This was a big challenge for me – more so than coming up with new dishes. Obviously, I didn’t want to disappoint the regulars and remove the dishes altogether – rather I relished the challenge and wanted to make some subtle improvements that will delight customers both old and new. This was achieved simply by starting from scratch and evaluating the ingredients used and the processes in cooking them.

What was your inspiration behind the new additions to the menu?

When I was appointed Head Chef, I was given a clear vision for the restaurant and how we could implement some positive change to the menu, We wanted to take Bob Bob Ricard back to its roots and deliver luxury food – and service – that would highlight the heritage of the restaurant in the capacious, glamourous dining room.

For instance, the Turbot Coulibiac was an idea of mine that came to light when Bob Bob Ricard’s owner, Leonid Shutov, asked me to make a dish that was as extravagant as a beef wellington but suitable for pescatarians and fish lovers. The obvious choice for the fish was turbot – the ‘King of the Ocean’ – and I wanted to create something that would invoke interest and exceed expectations.

There was so much passion and skill behind its development – the team have done amazingly well. It’s easy to make a mind-blowing dish once, but to deliver it en mass scale is where the real challenge is; getting that consistency day in, day out. In the dining room, the front-of-house team present the turbot whole and carve it in the room which adds to the atmosphere.

An interview with Bob Bob Ricard’s new Head Chef Tom Peters

The new Turbot Coulibiac with champagne sauce

The Waffle & Bellini Hour looks like great fun. What would you order?

The waffles have been a great addition to our offer and one that took months of development to get right, from Leonid spending hours making bespoke irons to us working hard in the kitchen on the recipes. The hardest thing when offering something so simple is that there is nowhere to hide! The favourite for me has to be the truffle waffle with bacon and truffle maple syrup, washed down with a nice glass of champagne. It’s a beautiful harmony of fantastic ingredients and flavours.

In your own words, why is Bob Bob Ricard such an institution?

Bob Bob Ricard is a remarkable restaurant and I am very proud to work here. One of the many reasons for its reputation and success is down to the amazing group of staff and management that take pride in the restaurant. Over the last 12 years the industry has seen many food trends and fads. Many restaurants will try and change and adapt to keep up, but Bob Bob Ricard has stuck to its guns all the way. It’s that dedication and vision that makes it what it is today.