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Alumni Stories: Oliver Gladwin

Leiths alumnus Oliver Gladwin runs the London-based restaurant group Local & Wild with his brothers Richard and Gregory. They currently have four restaurants: The Shed, Rabbit, Sussex, and The Black Lamb, all specialising in contemporary, seasonal cuisine based on ingredients sourced from the farms, hedgerows, and coastline of Britain, as well as from their own farm and vineyard in West Sussex.

What took you to Leiths?

I wanted to learn the classical style, like you read in the textbooks. In particular the core sauces, as well as the basic skills of a training chef. I knew this would give me the best foundation from which I could develop and then carve out my own personal style.

Had you always been interested in food?

I was brought up by two professional chefs, so I was born into it. I loved living on a vineyard, growing and picking our own food – it was part of our everyday life. It allowed me to fully immerse myself in this world from a young age. 

How was your Leiths experience?

I enjoyed Leiths very much and it was exciting to be in a class where I was doing something I love. I especially enjoyed the chef contributors that came in and did live demonstrations. These sessions were always a great learning opportunity and they’ll stick with me forever.

What did you get out of it?

I gained a great depth of knowledge that I still hold with me to this day. It also helped me grow my ability to become more confident in the kitchen. I’d say that my biggest skill achievement was to really understand written recipes and their balance.

How did your career take shape after Leiths?

Very positively! After Leiths, I started working on huge banqueting events. I then went into the restaurant business at the Oxo Tower doing one thousand cover services.

How did your restaurant group Local & Wild come into being?

I joined forces with my brothers: one being a farmer, one being a restaurateur and me as a chef –  it was a marriage made in Sussex!

What is your mission there?

Our aim is to serve seasonal, local, and wild food to communities and neighbourhoods in London. Our restaurants become a hub for the community and a place where customers become friends.

What ambitions do you have for yourself or for the restaurant group?

I want to keep growing the hospitality industry and inform and inspire Londoners about our Local & Wild ethos. I want us to continue pushing ourselves even when facing difficult times such as the current economic climate. In the long term, I would love to open more restaurants, write more cookbooks, and drink more good British wine!

gladwinbrothers.com