30 years of kitchen design
Johnny Grey Studios is turning 30. I have long wanted to thank my clients for their tremendous believe in my work and that of the Johnny Grey Studios. I owe my livelihood to them over the last 30 years. I also had a sneaking suspicion that they might like to meet each other too (and I was right). So one evening last week I booked out Clarkes on Kensington Church Street in London and we celebrated together, packing the restaurant to capacity. Members of the Johnny Grey Studios family came from as far away as Spain, France, Ireland, Scotland and by proxy Australia, as well as England.
We were also celebrating the launch of At Elizabeth David’s Table: Her Very Best Everyday Recipes, a new book featuring the culinary concoctions of my late aunt. Jill Norman compiled it and David Loftus took some mouth-watering photographs on location in France and Italy. As her literary executor and long standing friend and editor, Jill gave us a fascinating insight into working with Liza (as we called her). We were reminded of Elizabeth David’s scholarship, research and painstaking method of writing. She often rewrote her text four or five times.
I made a short speech about my accidental career as a kitchen designer. It happened partly because of Elizabeth’s influence. She was one of my mentors and I spent a lot of time cooking, eating and going on expeditions with her, including some wonderful picnics. Some of her dishes I ate are included in the new book. I chose 40 or so recipes that Jill included in the new volume.
Sam Chesterton, my first-ever client, read out a moving piece about how I started off making furniture at Hampshire Farm Cottage and what life was like in the early 70s in rural west Sussex. He took a bold step and asked me to design a Gothic Kitchen. He admitted to being a bit of a ‘Goth’.
Finally, media guru Peter Bazalgette coined the phrase of the night. It was he said ‘a bit like being at an Aston Martin Owner’s club dinner’. I suddenly thought that gives me an excuse to set up the Johnny Grey Kitchen Owners dinner club. It would be a great excuse to get together once a year to celebrate food, wine, friendship and kitchen culture.
I had some moving tributes and went away with many warm thoughts, glad to be a kitchen designer.