Gregg Wallace opens retro Bermondsey restaurant
Ladies stop him in the street and accuse him of being, "that chef off MasterChef," but Gregg Wallace has never worked in a kitchen.
The greengrocer turned television presenter is also a restaurateur and this week launched his latest culinary venture at the Bermondsey Square Hotel.
The concept, menu and design are all his own and he has taken his inspiration from the an unlikely period in gourmet history.
"Me and my wife talked about the dishes we used to love as kids and thought it would be a really nice idea to revisit them only do them better," Gregg said. "It's those same dishes but in the hands of a trained chef rather than a frozen packet."
Recommendations include the chicken kiev, knicker bocker glory, spam fritter and fish mousse but there is one dish that Gregg insists every dessert fan samples.
He said: "I love butterscotch Angel Delight. We serve it as a pre-pudding in a shot glass. We also give you an After Eight mint. "I don't want it to be fashionable because fashions change. These are the dishes you would have found in working class tables when I was growing up - just with a little more finesse."
The management at the hotel suggested Gregg brought his cafe concept Wallace & Co in Putney over to the SE1 but the presenter decided he could do something posher.
Gregg's Table is a restaurant at lunch time and in the evening but the rest of the time it'd a cafe and a bar with a huge outdoor seating area.
He said: "We have a menu that we are unashamedly calling Snax like a caravan you'd see on the side of the M3. There's a savoury side which I see suiting the chaps with chips and sausage rolls and a sweet side to for ladies with lattes who might want to order a slice of carrot cake."
Greg grew up in Peckham and later bought a house in Bermondsey. It is very important to him that Gregg's Table becomes part of the community.
He said: "The only really expensive things on the menu are the steak and the whole lobster. I want the restaurant to be reasonably priced - people go to restaurants for different reasons, some just go to tick them of, others will come because they are drawn to my name but I wan it to be the sort of place local people can come into once or twice a week."
The restaurant which has replaced Alfie's Kitchen opened to restricted numbers on Monday and officially launches on February 27 and he has already had some good feedback.
Gregg said: "People are really liking the concept. We have spent the last ten days having people in to try out the dishes and we have had some problems with the food and had to get rid of some of the waiters who couldn't cut it but that's the industry.
"We are keeping some of the staff from the last restaurant but have a whole new team too."
He is so passionate about the project that he plans to be come a regular himself although he does admit to a little competition.
"I eat out three or four times a week ,"Gregg said. "And I'll juts be changing where I go and coming to Gregg's Table instead. I'll make an exception for my friend Michel Roux's Gavroche though."
Go to bermondseysquarehotel.co.uk