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30 July 2014

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Interview with Scott Hallsworth

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Scott Hallsworth - Scott_Hallworth.jpg

Scott Hallsworth likes to stay busy. Not content with the buzz of thriving pop-up Kurobuta, he is about to open a permanent site for the izakaya – essentially a Japanese pub – in Marble Arch, while also pushing to make the Chelsea branch permanent too. But former work as head chef in Nobu London and Nobu Melbourne kitchens has given the Aussie a taste for life in the fast lane. We talked to him about his forthcoming Kurobuta plans, how he puts his own spin on more than just food and why Londoners love a good izakaya.

The new Kurobuta sounds exciting. How has the pop-up in Chelsea (picture below) been going so far?

Great - better than expected. Last year was good but we’ve kept growing and kept going and this year things have exploded. That’s definitely a good thing and we’ve had some really positive reviews.

What’s been the star dish with diners?

The pork belly bun. Everyone has their own favourite dish but the pork belly bun has been really popular.

How much longer will the pop-up be running for?

At least until the end of June, although we are in talks to make the site permanent since it’s been so successful. Everything is on track so far. It would keep me busy, but I definitely have a habit of biting off more than I can chew when it comes to work.

Kurobuta.jpg

And how are preparations going for the permanent site at Marble Arch?

Really well – we’re on track to open in the first two weeks of April. I wouldn’t want to say for sure but we’re aiming for an opening date of 7 April.

What can we expect from the new Kurobuta – will it be much different to the pop-up?

It will be much bigger, which will allow for a better bar space than the pop-up. What I really want for Kurobuta is that it will be a drinking venue as well as an eating venue. So we’ll have some really cool cocktails and some great beers, too. I’ve been working on the drinks myself. I’ve worked in restaurants in the past where someone’s brought in to do the drinks and someone else for something else – if you try and find the best person for everything it can all end up being a bit of a mixed bag. But Kurobuta has my stamp on everything.

Has your time at Nobu had an influence on your solo restaurant projects?

Nobu was a great basis for me, but it’s not necessarily a healthy thing getting into the habit of working with a huge budget. Nobu was definitely a good culinary basis for me, though.

What else has influenced you?

Definitely the biggest influence for Kurobuta are the izakayas I visited in Tokyo – the ones you find down a back alley that are really grungy and hidden down some stairs. Sydney does it too – it has some really beaten-up bars.

Kurobuta pop-up - kurobuta_pop_up.jpg

Why do you think this type of informal Japanese dining is becoming popular in London?

It’s taken off in other places and London is catching up. Like in New York – I was talking to my friend who’s a head chef in a Manhattan restaurant and he was like, ‘people are just trying to keep it real, man.’ People don’t want the formal experience.

And will you be focussing on Kurobuta for now or do you have any other projects lined up in the near future?

Always! There are always other things on the back burner. But I wouldn’t like to say just yet…

Kurobuta opens in Marble Arch in early April while the pop up in Chelsea will run until at least June. For more information visit the website.

Read our review of what to expect from Kurobuta

This interview was published in March 2014.

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