Stuart Gillies' Journey from Gordon Ramsay Holdings CEO to Chef Owner at Bank House

The Staff Canteen

Meet Stuart Gillies, a seasoned chef and the visionary behind the Bank House in Chislehurst and Number Eight in SevenOaks.

With over 30 years of culinary experience, from Gordon Ramsay Holdings’ CEO, to working at Michelin-starred restaurants including Two Michelin starred, Daniel in New York, Hotel Lord Byron in Rome and The Connaught alongside Michelin starred chef, Angela Hartnett, Stuart Gillies embarked on a remarkable culinary adventure alongside his wife, Cecilia.


Bank House, an embodiment of Stuart's innovative spirit, emerged from a daring experiment. Breaking away from the bustling streets of central London, where he had honed his craft, Stuart sought to bring his culinary mastery to the heart of South London. Despite initial challenges in securing a space as an independent establishment, Stuart and Cecilia's perseverance prevailed.

Bank House Stuart Gillies

In 2019, together with the landlord, they transformed an old 1860 bank into a culinary gem, meticulously restoring its historic charm. “We didn't leave anything to chance,” Stuart admits. “We brought the whole building back to life.”

Reflecting on his illustrious career, Stuart emphasises the importance of staying grounded and attuned to the local community, creating a space where guests feel at home, visiting with family and friends’ multiple times a week.

Bank House offers accessible luxury, striking a delicate balance between exquisite flavours and reasonable pricing. “We spent our life in fine dining and ultimate luxury high-end where there was never a ceiling and the guests were just looking to be dazzled and impressed at all times,” Stuart reveals. “This is a really different project. This is for local people, this is their money, and so you've got to be aware that there is a ceiling.”


Stuart Gillies was working as a chef when, back in 2010, he was offered the chance to become the CEO of Gordon Ramsay Holdings. In the blink of an eye, he was overseeing a global empire spanning from London to Las Vegas to Melbourne “Was I ready for that?” he admits. “Well, I wasn't qualified at the time I took over, but I was ready for a change because I was a chef-director of numerous businesses in the company and everything the company was doing back in 2009/2010 was under my umbrella.”

Stuart worked in the role of CEO for seven years which he describes as a “rollercoaster”. His role included dealing with development teams, energy inspiration, new partnerships, new operations, and working extremely closely with Gordon all the time to keep driving the group and growing.

“But you're not close to the action,” he admits. “You're not close to grassroots, and I think over time you just get further and further away. For some people, maybe that's great, maybe they like that the chef world is gone […] but in the long term, it was never me.”

The main reason for Stuart to leave this role as CEO was to spend more time with his family. “When Cecilia and I spoke about what to do next, we thought, why don't we do something for us?” For Stuart being at a grassroots level is essential, “working with products, designing our own businesses, building our own teams, creating something that we don’t just own, but really feel emotionally connected to.”


In crafting his culinary masterpieces, Stuart draws inspiration from the finest ingredients, a legacy of his lifelong devotion to the culinary arts. Rejecting complex cooking techniques, he champions simplicity, allowing each ingredient to shine.

“The best thing about the UK is that we have four seasons, so you are forced to change and implement new combinations and be more creative,” Stuart admits.

Stuart wants to ensure that with each bite, the desire to indulge further is enhanced. With an eye for detail and a commitment to quality, Stuart's creations captivate the senses, offering a harmonious blend of flavours and textures.

“I often see less experienced chefs making a dish that tastes amazing, but it's not amazing to eat because people are not eating the dish as a whole,” Stuart continues. “It’s all a matter of balance. I train my brigade to eat, not just taste, so to understand how the flavours are built, how the salt stays in your palate, how you need acidity to cut through certain flavours.”


Stuart draws inspiration from the people he has worked with and the food he has tasted over the years. “I've written down everything, I have massive folders and boxes that my wife is always trying to throw away,” he laughs. “Those are my ‘creative wells’, where I just dive into and remember memories and experiences I’ve had.”

Bank House Stuart Gillies

But if there was a singular thing to drive his inspiration that would be his family, he reveals. “Us being together and eating and drinking together. My three sons work in the business with us, which we never planned years ago, but it’s one of the most rewarding things we could ever have experienced.”

It's a journey they have embarked on together, weaving a narrative of shared experiences and unwavering dedication to deliver exceptional hospitality in every aspect, from ambience to flavour pairings, embodying the essence of what it means to provide not just service, but true hospitality.


In navigating the tumultuous terrain of today's hospitality industry, Stuart acknowledges the paramount importance of survival amidst unprecedented challenges. "Survival is the only answer," he asserts, echoing the sentiments shared by many within the industry grappling with the harsh realities of fluctuating markets and soaring costs.

While the spectre of economic instability looms large, Stuart remains resolute in his vision for growth. “Plans are to grow and to create more businesses like Bank House and Number Eight where artisan products and accessible luxury are at the forefront,” Stuart affirms, emphasising the need for strategic alignment and a harmonious synergy between location, team dynamics, and organisational culture.

Bank House Stuart Gillies


For aspiring chefs, Stuart offers words of wisdom gleaned from his decades-long journey. “First of all, embrace the hard work,” he admits. “Micro details are also important, they are what underpins the whole quality of your business,” Stuart advises.

Finally, cherish the camaraderie that defines the culinary world. “The hours can be unsociable, but it's the teamwork that makes it special,” Stuart concludes. “The bond you build with your team, the buzz you get during a busy evenings working together on a bar, running the floor or working in the kitchen.

The one thing that I fell in love with as an 18-year-old was the energy of a team. Realising that as long as we're a team, then we can achieve amazing things and can perform and deliver a great experience for people, not just for the guests, but for the whole team as well.”

Bank House Stuart Gillies


In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall  – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 16 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 560,000 followers across Facebook, X, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 11th March 2024

Stuart Gillies' Journey from Gordon Ramsay Holdings CEO to Chef Owner at Bank House