Today we introduce Michelin Starred Chef and Entrepreneur Merlin Labron-Johnson.
As the world changed, returns. What’s next?
Beyond the trends, the quick fixes, and brief highs, what will the long term positive movement be? At Osip in Bruton, by simply being himself, Merlin Labron-Johnson may have the answer.
What’s Bruton like? Clifford Street in the country, each with Hauser & Wirth at one end. Osip & it’s sister ‘The Old Pharmacy’ occupy the near end of the high street, one Michelin starred restaurant, the other small plates and natural wine. Both are chic, elegant and relaxed. At this point, we could recommend, suggest you must go and end.
But, there’s more here, much more.
It comes back to Merlin. An hour or two spent in his company is a tonic, his food revelatory, of the moment, looking to the future, but aware and in love with what has been. He has an intense and passionate but hopeful aura, speaking with purpose of the importance of building teams, of allowing people to grow and the social and pastoral side of hospitality. Brushing morel’s Merlin spoke of his journey across Europe as a young man honing his skills, and in Bruton he has created two restorative and transformative hubs for the next generation. These feel less like kitchen’s aching to quickly turn tables, but a family inhabiting an artists studio.
Osip works on a simple process, they just cook for you, there is no choice, just what they believe was right and ready today. Produce grown on their farm or from friends sings, what may be thought traditionally of as an element is brought front and centre. And it is this which is the future. In some ways it was always there in the past, we just got a little lost.
Protein features, but only when it is the right solution. It is food not as fuel, nor as an overblown & propped experience, rather a simple and trusting contract between diner and chef, it is Michelin Starred cooking with the soul of a family meal.
Perhaps this is daunting, yet there is comfort in just allowing an expert to simply create. It is all an exercise in confidence, inbuilt and hard worked, it also feels revolutionary, in decades past, London wouldn’t have let Merlin and his timeless energy get away, he, Osip and the Old Pharmacy would be revered as London culinary landmarks and the world would turn.
Now, it doesn’t just feel different, it is different, and pioneers like Merlin are making it different again. At the end of each meal, less a menu more a poem of what you ate is delivered, sparsely written, it reads like James Salter, and it is Salter with his passionate, life well lived prose that I feel captures Osip and Merlin.
Salter’s prose is stylistically exquisite, and dealt with beauty in all it’s forms, from the high to the low, the daily to the otherworldly, with books and stories filled with cosy homes, neighbourhood restaurants and grand places, brief love affairs and long simmering romances. Salter, a notorious foodie, his book of days written with his wife Kay ‘Life is Meals’, showcases this simple beauty, the elevation of the sometimes overlooked to become a singular star.