Door 22: Margot & Fergus Henderson

Photography © Todd Selby

If one thinks of British cuisine, either international cuisine form the former commonwealth springs to mind or bad, tasteless food, about the latter not only Asterix & Obelix make fun of. Despite this cliche, London's culinary scene is pulsating as ever and it is to a large due to the work of husband and wife chef duo Fergus and Margot Henderson.

Margot is originally from New Zealand, but they met while Fergus, who was born and raised in London, was chef at the Eagle. After marrying, they opened in 1992 the French House Dining Room at the French House pub in Soho, London. Simple, but delicious food, that can be served in a pub, is in a way still core to their cooking.

Then Fergus left in 1994 to open together with his partners Trevor Gulliver and Jon Spiteri the infamous St. John's restaurant on St. John Street, where he became the head-chef. His take on traditional British food and his philosophy of nose to tail cooking, which included pieces of meat like pigs' ears, ducks' hearts, trotters, pigs' tails, bone marrow and squirrel. This also led to a series of cookbooks, which cemented his reputation. Despite being diagnosed with Parkinson in 1998, he is still active.

After having three kids, Margot together with Melanie Arnold, who replaced Fergus on the business side of things, founded Rochelle Canteen in 2000. The restaurant is in a converted bicycle shed in the courtyard of a former Victorian school in Shoreditch. The un-fuzzy environment is reflected in the food, which changes daily and is dependent on the season. Additionally to its location in east London, they specialize in catering for openings or weddings and recently in 2017 a second branch at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in London.