Ollie Templeton is the co-founder of creative hub Carousel in London, which has a wine bar and hosts chef residencies and events.

What attracted you to gastronomy?

Although I definitely valued my education, I was a lot more invested in cooking when I was younger. I grew up in southern Spain with outside space so I informed myself a lot about seasonality and I’d order seeds online to try and grow a variety of tomatoes, aubergines, peppers – you name it. That got me into the world of cooking and sparked my interest in it.

As I was approaching leaving school, I decided I wanted to be a chef. I moved to London when I was 18 and started working at the restaurant Moro. I had no idea what to expect from a job in hospitality – it was really fun and I made good friends in the restaurant industry.

What is Carousel and what inspired its creation?

We were driving back from France after a holiday and didn’t want to go back to work. We came up with the idea of Mile High – an immersive dining experience, themed around air travel.

It was a real success, and Carousel was founded in 2014 on the back of that. The concept was to bring chefs from all over the world to London to cook their food, and to give our guests and team the opportunity to discover and learn, make friends and create a community.

You don’t have to be in the ‘50 Best’ list or have a Michelin star. Our line-ups feature amazing, established restaurants but also chefs who are going to open the next best thing – catching people before they explode on the scene.

How does it work?

We’ll often reach out to the chefs we want to invite. They then get the full support of our team. We have multiple calls, texts and emails with the chefs before they arrive and plan the menu months in advance.

We make sure everything is ready for the first service. It’s always mayhem on the first two days – that much has never changed – but then we settle into it and find the rhythm.

How important is ethical and local sourcing of produce?

Really important. We’re always striving to improve and are very dedicated to working with certain suppliers. If that means ultimately using the same palette of ingredients for long periods of time, then that’s just how it is.

I guess that makes you more creative as a result?

Yes and there are such big cultural shifts in food from one country to the next. A chef from Iceland will approach celeriac in a different way to another chef. It changes your perspective quite a lot.

We work with Natoora, who bring produce from Spain, Italy and France, but we’re quite selective with what we take. When it comes to meat and fish, we draw the line there and we only use seafood and meat from the UK.

We order in whole animals and allocate it to other parts of Carousel – such as our wine bar and events. Since relocating to a larger site on Charlotte Street [in 2021] we now have different offerings within the same building. We make sure to use up what we have.

How many residencies have you had?

330-40 chefs have come through the doors from all over the world. We will reach around 350 by the time we turn ten in September.

Which residency has stayed with you?

With 350 chefs coming through the door, you don’t continue relationships with all of them all the time. But every once in a while something clicks – there’s a real connection and you end up doing multiple things together.

Emmanuel Prieto discovered Carousel by chance at a Sofar Sounds gig when he was on holiday in London. He got my contact details, we met the next day, got along really well and have done so many different things together over the years. He always brings a lot of energy and passion, and it’s always a success in terms of covers.

Another one is Sushi Sho in Stockholm. I met them when we did a pop-up in Stockholm in their 12-seat sushi restaurant. They were the first residency at the Carousel on Charlotte Street.

What’s your favourite restaurant in London? 

I go to Lucky & Joy in Clapton a lot.

Which up-and-coming chef or restaurant should we have on our radar?

Carousel is a springboard for chefs getting their name out there. In March we had Jesús Durón, the former executive chef at Pujol in Mexico City. He’s opening a restaurant called Dué in London soon. Carousel was the first place people could taste what’s to come. The residency was sold out every night, with at least 50 per cent of the dining room on a waiting list. The signs are there that Dué will be a success.

The first iterations of Santiago Lastra’s restaurant Kol [in Marylebone, London] were also born in Carousel.

What has been your most rewarding travel experience?

Last year I went to Guatemala and cooked with my good friend Pablo Díaz at his restaurant Mercado 24. The team go to the markets every day. The produce was insane and we built a menu around this. Nothing was pre-planned, which was a nice way to do things and the opposite of Carousel.

And most challenging?

I’ve never had that many dramas. There’s always the panic of bringing food to different countries, with vacuum bags of sauces and ferments in your luggage.

What’s your dream destination?

I’m desperate to go to India and Nepal. Obviously the food is incredible there, but also the nature and hiking in the Himalayas.

I often end up booking trips for work and then extending them, so I can take a break and step out of the world of food and hospitality.

What’s your inflight entertainment pick?

I try to use flying time to relax. I have big commitment issues with watching films. Usually I’ll try to read, then have a glass of wine and a bit of whisky, fall asleep and wake up in the destination.

And indispensable travel gadget?

Earphones, even just putting them on noise-cancelling mode with no music to drown out noise.

What’s next for Carousel?

We’ve settled into our site on Charlotte Street. It’s taken a while, as it’s a big space that requires a lot of attention. We’re definitely interested in setting up new sites, such as wine bars, and want to keep providing a great service with great experiences in food.

We’re also doing an event called Paired, where chefs and DJs collaborate on a sound/food menu and the dinner turns into a bit of a party.

And finally, in September we’re going to celebrate our tenth anniversary with a big party!