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London’s Preeminent Natural Wine Bar Snaps Up St. John Chef for Next Residency

Chef Jamie Smart will replace Meedu Saad on the storied P. Franco induction hobs this coming weekend

p. franco, one of the city’s best wine bar and restaurants
P. Franco’s shop front
Michaël Protin/Eater London

A chef who’s accumulated experience in many of London’s most impressive modern European, British, and Mediterranean kitchens has been chosen as the next guest to take over the fabled induction hobs at the back of the pioneering Clapton wine bar P. Franco.

Jamie Smart, who will do the handover session with incumbent resident Meedu Saad this coming Sunday, 26 March, comes from a most recent post as sous chef at the great St John Bread and Wine in Spitalfields.

Smart, whose style of cooking will lean towards France and Europe more widely, previously worked under chef Pam Yung at Flor, the now-closed, but important bakery, restaurant, wine bar, and lockdown pizzeria in Borough Market. He also recently completed summer season at the renowned Auberge de Chassignolles — the hip, ingredient-obsessed chef’s Cordon Bleu — in the south of France.

Chef Will Gleave who oversees P. Franco’s chef appointments as well as the kitchens at sister sites, Bright and Peg, told Eater that it was “hard to say exactly” what Smart is likely to put on his menus; among the attractions of taking over the hype hobs is the freedom and independence chefs are given. Guests can expect “some French bits, definitely pasta, and a big focus working with [vegetable suppliers] Flourish and Namayasai.

Smart has previously worked with chefs James Lowe at Lyle’s and Ed Wilson at Brawn, two of the modern pioneers of British and modern European cooking in London. Brawn has long been a feeder restaurant to P. Franco; despite not being related, the two restaurants which have both been pivotal in natural wine’s preeminence in east London, have a spiritual connection.

P. Franco’s induction hobs have been the site of innumerable chef success stories, a space for them to exercise their own personal cooking styles and reach new audiences. Previous residents have included Gleave himself, along with Pepe Belvedere, Anna Tobias, Tim Spedding, and many others.

Saad’s modern London menu has evidently been a hit and while he is departing from Clapton, the chef, who is on the staff at northern Thai-inspired Kiln in Soho, will open his own restaurant in London later this year.

More soon from Smart.


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