"We've evolved so much in the last five years"

Alex South

Alex South


The Staff Canteen sat down with Emily Roux and Diego Ferrari, owners of Notting Hill’s Caractère restaurant, as they prepare to celebrate five years of success, and tell us how their restaurant has changed over time.

Nestled in Notting Hill’s constantly evolving restaurant scene stands Emily and Diego’s Caractère restaurant, which has quickly become part and parcel of the neighbourhood’s rich food offering.

"We love eating around, and seeing what our neighbours do. We love Brett down at The Lebury, which is only a few metres away, we just love being inspired by anyone and everyone," described Emily.

Despite being much younger, compared to the neighbouring likes of three Michelin-starred Core by Clare Smyth, or Brett Graham’s two Michelin-starred The Ledbury, imagining Notting Hill without Caractère is a thought almost impossible to reconcile with, and speaks volumes of the hard work and talent produced by owners Emily and Diego, as well as their superb restaurant team.

"We have an incredible team at the moment that we're really proud of and it really does feel like a family unit, which is just lovely. I think the customers feel that because everyone feels at home," Emily explained.

Including both Emily and Diego, Caractère boasts a team of sixteen staff members spread across the kitchen and front of house, with the restaurant serving a maximum of 40-42 covers when fully booked.

Explaining what attracts staff to Caractère and how they’ve retained their current team, Emily revealed: "We have staff members with family, or who are having a family soon, or intend to have a family in the next couple of years, and I think that they see that this is a life work balance that could work for that. We're the first to represent that because we've already got a three-year-old son and I'm five months pregnant."


With Caractère’s 5th anniversary looming in October; Emily, Diego, and the rest of the restaurant team are currently in the process of devising celebrations, which include an internal bash amongst staff as well as special celebratory meal for guests.

"There'll definitely be cake for staff and all of that because that's just fun and delicious, but the plan is also to do a special five course dinner or lunch with a dish from each year," Emily explained.

She added: "We've had so many images taken throughout the year, so we can pinpoint our favourite dishes or our customer's favourite dishes, and we'll do those to sort of stand out one for each year that we were open."

The celebrations being planned by the team are thoroughly deserved when looking at the events of the last five years and how Caractère has managed to navigate the plethora of uncertain challenges, whilst also delivering a sublime restaurant offering.

"Turning five is a big achievement for the both of us. It is incredible to go through everything we have and it's a very happy moment for us," explained Diego.

"… and we haven't killed each other in five years, which is also great!" Emily joked.

Navigating COVID, BREXIT, and The Rest

Discussing why reaching five is such an achievement for them, Emily said: "Five years doesn't seem that long but it is when we've had COVID, Brexit, and everything else. It's been a lot of stop, start and on and off, and we've had to always rejig, and reenergise, and restructure. It has been tough at times, but I think the fact that we've been together and been able to work together head on, we've been very lucky and fortunate, so it's definitely an achievement."

Whilst the challenges have been enormous, they represent experiences that Emily and Diego have managed and learnt from, which have only further enriched their business and their vision.

Expanding on this, Emily said: "There's been a lot of learning curves, not all of it negative. We've been able to change the pattern of our working, so we now close a lot more for lunch, whereas we were open five days a week, lunch and dinner, we now only open two days at lunch Fridays, and Saturdays, which gives a much better balance for our family and everybody else's life, which is really appreciated."

As well as changes to the operations of the business, Caractère’s food and drink offering has also evolved and matured with the pair both agreeing that the restaurant and it’s menu is the best it has ever been.

"We've evolved so much in the last five years, our menu has changed immensely from what we did on year one and we've always tried to better ourselves, gain finesse, and just keep striving to do better every day," Emily explained.

She added: "We're doing dishes that go into more detail that are that are more complex and that's only something that we've managed to do over time. It's not something that can happen in a couple of days or in a year. I think only this year have we really upped our game very considerably."

priorities for the future

Looking to the future, priorities for the team are to reflect and celebrate everything that’s been accomplished over the last five years, however for Emily and Diego the pair are also expecting a baby.

To open a restaurant in such turbulent times, keep it profitable and ultimately make it a success, is a huge result for any business particularly a fine dining establishment.

Offering their advice on setting up a restaurant, Emily said: "I think at this specific stage in time, I think patience would be a good thing. I wouldn't say that maybe opening doors this year would be something I would recommend."

She added: "I think waiting it out a little bit but planning adequately looking around, continue to do research, we spent a year and a half, maybe two years sort of researching, it's a very long process, so take this time to figure out what you could do next year or the year after."

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Alex South

Alex South

Editor 19th May 2023

"We've evolved so much in the last five years"