The three owners of Bibendum Restaurant have played a profound part in the way the Restaurant has grown up over the course of its twenty one year history.
SIR TERENCE CONRAN
Terence Conran is one of the world’s best-known designers, restaurateurs and retailers. Born in 1931, he founded the Habitat chain of home furnishings stores that revolutionised the High Street in the 1960s and 1970s by bringing intelligent modern design within reach of the general population.
Habitat marked the birth of a remarkable business journey that, over the course of half a century, has embraced design, retailing, restaurants, hotels and publishing. Today, Conran Holdings, of which Terence is Chairman, owns restaurants and shops in cities throughout the world and employs over 2,000 staff.
Back in the 1960s, Habitat’s original home was opposite the iconic Michelin Building, and it was here that he was able to encapsulate his passion for design, retailing and food, in partnership with publisher Paul Hamlyn, and chef Simon Hopkinson. The building was acquired in 1985 (not without difficulty), restored with great care and sympathy, a huge project, and became home to a giant new Conran Shop in the basement, Octopus Publishing’s offices on the upper levels, but most excitingly, a Restaurant, Oyster Bar and Café on the ground and first floors. Over twenty years on, the original layout and design remains largely the same, much of its charm emanating from the myriad of design detail.
Terence has always been a great supporter of education in design and founded the Design Museum in London and is currently the Provost of the Royal College of Art. He has written over 30 books that broadly reflect his design philosophy, selling over 20 million copies of his publications worldwide.
Born in 1954, Simon Hopkinson grew up in Bury, Lancashire, where his love of eating was established at the kitchen table. At seventeen, he left school to join the kitchen of Yves Champeau, the patron of the Normandie in nearby Birtle, a Restaurant highly acclaimed in the sixties and seventies and where the flavours of regional French cooking made a lasting impression on him. From the Normandie Simon went to another Good Food Guide favourite, the Hat and Feather in Knutsford, Cheshire, where he was introduced to the ideas of Elizabeth David and Robert Carrier. There followed a succession of jobs around the coastal towns of the Dyfed peninsula – including setting up on his own at the Shed Restaurant in Dinas near Fishguard and subsequently gaining an Egon Ronay star in 1978, the youngest chef ever to do so.
The next two and a half years he spent as an Egon Ronay inspector, visiting the best restaurants in Britain, assessing transatlantic airlines and helping to write reports on twenty one New York hotels. He returned to London and after a three year stint as a private chef, was installed at Hilaire which opened in Old Brompton Road in 1983. A friendship with the Conrans led to the establishment of Bibendum in 1987, where he worked as chef and joint proprietor with Sir Terence Conran and the late Lord Paul Hamlyn.
In 1994 he published his first cookery book, Roast Chicken and Other Stories and retired from full time cooking at Bibendum in 1995 to concentrate on his writing. His second book, The Prawn Cocktail Years was produced in 1997 followed by Gammon and Spinach, Roast Chicken and Other Stories – second helpings and most recently Week in Week out – published in 2007.
From 1994 Simon was the weekly food columnist for over 8 years with The Independent. Week in Week out is a collection of his favourite stories from this time.
The Vegetarian Option was published in October 2009. The Good Cook, published in July 2011 accompanied his BBC television series of the same name.
“Simon Hopkinson Cooks” is his latest television series. Episode 1 aired on Monday 3rd June 2013 at 9pm on More4 and will be followed by 5 more episodes.
Michael Hamlyn began his career in the film industry in 1976 as an assistant director. In 1980 he went on to form Midnight Films with the director, Julian Temple. Midnight Film’s credits included The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball for Amnesty International, It’s All True for the BBC and numerous music videos for bands such as the Rolling Stones and the Kinks.
In 1983 Michael took over Midnight Films and continued to produce music videos and films. While under Michael’s control the company produced Party Party directed by Terry Windsor and White City with Pete Townsend, directed by Richard Lowenstein.
In 1987 Michael moved across the Atlantic to the United States to make U2 Rattle and Hum, directed by Phil Joanou. While in America Michael established Midnight Films Inc as a leading music video producer which had a client list boasting names such as U2, INXS and Bruce Springsteen. Between the years 1987 and 1989 Midnight Films Inc won 12 MTV awards including Best Video Award for INXS’s Need You Tonight and the Viewers Video of the Year Award for U2’s With or Without You. In 1989 Midnight Inc. went on to win the Best Video Grammy for U2’s Where the Streets Have No Name.
In 1991 Michael returned to the UK and in partnership with Polygram formed Specific Films Ltd. Under Specific Films Ltd Michael produced The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert directed by Stephan Elliott, which went on to win several awards including an Oscar for Best Costume Design, the Audience Award for Most Popular Film at the Cannes Film Festival and Best Film Award at both the San Francisco Film Festival and the Seattle Film Festival. To date Michael has produced a number of features including Mr Reliable directed by Nadia Tass, Paws directed by Karl Zwicky and The Last Seduction II directed by Terry Marcel. In 2005, Michael was Executive Producer on The Proposition written by Nick Cave and directed by John Hillcoat.
Michael’s most current producing venture is the stage musical version of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, which had its world premiere in Sydney in October 2006. The musical opened to rave reviews and is currently on tour in Australia. Michael is a trustee of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, as well as a governor at the Southbank Centre.