Chef Bios: Fergus Henderson

Staff Writer
Chef Bios: Fergus Henderson

Fergus Henderson has been a pioneer in the world modern British cuisine. His approach to cooking, called “nose to tail eating” promotes the idea of using every part of the animal. Henderson has helped to popularize the use of offal and combine updated British classics with high-end cuisine.

Henderson was born in London. When it came time to enter university, Henderson decided to follow in the footsteps of his parents and become an architect. But after training as an architect at the Architectural Association in London, he decided instead to pursue a career in cooking.

Despite his lack of professional culinary training, Henderson only worked in a couple of restaurants, including The Globe in Notting Hill before he took on his first executive chef role. Henderson met his wife; Margot, a fellow chef, and the couple took over The French House in the Soho neighborhood of London in 1992. In 1994, Henderson and restaurateur Trevor Gulliver opened St. John Restaurant in a space that was previously a bacon smokehouse. It was while cooking in the early days at St. John that Henderson developed his expertise with offal.

In 1998, Henderson was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and decided to step down as executive chef of St. John. In the Fall of 2005, he underwent deep brain stimulation, a cutting edge procedure that helps to control tremors associated with the disease.

St. John Restaurant has won many awards since opening. In 2001, the restaurant was named Best Overall London Restaurant by Moet and Chandon. The restaurant also took the 14th spot in Restaurant Magazine’s 2009 ratings of the Top 50 Restaurants in the World. In 2009, St. John was also awarded its first Michelin Star. Henderson has published two books: “Nose to Tail Eating: A Kind of British Cooking” and “Beyond Nose to Tail.”

QUICKFACTS:
Born: 1963
Restaurants: St. John Restaurant
Culinary Style: Nose to Tail Eating

DID YOU KNOW?
Chef and food writer Anthony Bourdain has said on a number of occasions that he would like his “last meal” to be cooked by Fergus Henderson.