Even if you are unfamiliar with their names, the chances are that you will have probably eaten in one of Corbin & King’s restaurants.
Dubbed ‘London’s most successful restaurateurs’ by The Telegraph, Chris Corbin and Jeremy King have been business partners since 1981. Prior to that, Corbin worked at Langan’s Brasserie, one the of most influential restaurants of the ‘70s, while King was maître d’hôtel at Joe Allen in Covent Garden.
Through Caprice Holdings they bought Le Caprice in 1981, then The Ivy in 1990 and seafood restaurant J Sheekey in 1998 (now all sold). Today, their roll call of restaurants consists of The Wolseley, The Delaunay, Brasserie Zédel, Colbert, The Colony Grill Room, Fischer’s and Bellanger – all of which are at the heart of the capital’s dining scene. In the last four years, they have also expanded beyond restaurants, opening a cabaret space, The Crazy Coqs, in 2012 at Brasserie Zédel, followed by The Beaumont hotel in 2014.
Key to their unrivalled success is the belief that a restaurant should have a heart and soul. As King has said, ‘Chris and I have always believed the foundation of a great restaurant is when the restaurateur creates somewhere they would like to eat themselves.’ The duo has always been masterful at rejuvenating historic, but down-at-heel restaurants, transforming each one into a destination in its own right, so that they attract both locals and visitors from abroad (The Wolseley, for example, currently serves around 400,000 covers per year).
Corbin & King’s restaurants have always provided a perfect balance of service, ambience and quality of food, without an over-emphasis on one or the other. This has been achieved by a forensic attention to detail, an absolute hands-on approach and the pair always being present in the restaurants. They also seem to have an intuitive sense of what restaurant-goers want from the experience and the ability to attract and command immense loyalty from senior staff in an industry known for high staff turnover.
When they won the 1993 Catey Award, Corbin & King were praised as ‘complete’ and ‘hands-on’ restaurateurs with an almost nit-picking attention to detail. Many of the chefs and restaurateurs winning praise today, including Mark Hix, Des McDonald, Chris Galvin, Francesco Mazzei and Matthew Hobbs were nurtured and mentored in their careers by Corbin & King.
The pair are regularly recognised by their peers and opinion-makers as being leaders in their profession. According to Hotdinners.com, ‘there are relatively few people who can open a restaurant in London with as much instant glamour and long-lasting buzz as Jeremy King and Chris Corbin’, while The Observer’s Jay Rayner has commented, ‘the very best restaurants are film sets in which diners play both cast and audience. No restaurateurs know this better than Chris Corbin and Jeremy King’.
Over the years, their restaurants have collected plenty of accolades too, featuring in lists such as the Top 100 in London or the UK. Since opening, The Wolseley, The Delaunay and Colbert have been named restaurant of the year by Harper’s Bazaar, Taste London and Time Out.
Their many awards are deserved acknowledgement for their role at the vanguard of London’s rise to becoming renowned as one of the culinary capitals of the world. And not letting the side down, The Beaumont hotel – which King describes as combining ‘features informed by my own personal taste’ with ‘a sense of history to match the 1926 building’ – was named the AA Hotel of the Year in London for 2016/2017.
CORBIN & KING 157 PICCADILLY, LONDON W1J 9Eb +44 (0)20 7647 1810