We’re excited to introduce our latest Siren - Olivia Burt. Masterchef the Professionals finalist, former Sous Chef at Claridge’s and now Head Chef at Chelsea’s new neighbourhood staple Stanley’s.
We chatted about Cefinn's new Autumn 21 collection, creativity and cooking, being a woman in a male-dominated industry, inspiration and...the surprising appeal of pink.
Tell us about what sparked your interest in cooking and food?
I have loved cooking and food for as long as I can remember but when I was younger I didn’t necessarily see going into cooking as a career path. It has been a constantly changing route through food to get to where I am now and I am sure there will be a lot of change in the future.
Have you always wanted to do something creative and not necessarily in an office?
I definitely have always wanted to do something creative; I love to keep moving and be working with other people in a busy environment. I loved art and painting portraits and actually I think that side of things really helps with the creativity of cooking, helping me with the plating of the dishes and what looks good.
What has been a career highlight so far and what are your goals for the future?
It is very difficult to look into the future! I obviously have goals and know where I would like to get to but I don’t want my career to be ruled by unrealistic aims that stop me from living in the moment and letting my career carve its own path (within reason!). My career highlight is Stanley’s - it is my first chance to date to put my name above something, show people what my food is and to lead my amazing team of chefs forward together.
How do you find being a woman in a male dominated industry?
I don’t think it has ever been easy and I am pretty sure it never will be but I think I have found my route to being a strong confident woman in this industry. So for me the best way to sustain this is to lead other women on this path; I am so very lucky to have 12 amazing women in my kitchen and can’t wait to watch the team grow more.
Where do you get your strong work ethic from? Who and what inspires you?
I have a very clear list of things that I would like to achieve at some point in my career but I am not putting a time scale on that. My drive to be better is purely for myself and to prove to myself that I can do it for me and I don’t see the point in comparing myself to others. I want to cook my food and enjoy doing it. I am inspired by others' journeys and would love to follow in some amazing chefs footsteps but in my own way. In terms of inspiration, my team inspire me to keep moving forward and to be the best leader I can be.
What would be your advice to anyone wanting to pursue an unconventional career?
My advice would just be to be confident in what you are deciding to do, love it and push yourself to be better. I love my job and the paths it has taken me down so far and I know that nothing else would have been able to do the same. I guess it all comes down to taking a risk in the first place.
Best advice you have ever been given both professionally and personally?
I think just to keep stepping back and not being afraid to reassess everything. Doing this allows me to make sure I have my career priorities set and also making sure I have a good balance with my personal life.
What is your favourite thing about your job?
It would have to be the fast pace of the kitchen, I love the speed! Hours go by like minutes and although I would so love more hours in my days, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Tell us more about Stanley’s and how you came to be head chef?
Stanley’s was a project of risk and taking a huge chance on something I didn’t not know would work out like it has. It was a huge opportunity to showcase my style and to just be me and lead my own team. Lockdown gave me the time to think about what I had not done yet and what I really wanted from my career. I came out of the other side with a fresh head ready to take on the biggest responsibility of my career so far.
How would you describe Stanley’s?
We love to think of it as an English garden hidden away in Chelsea - modern British cooking in a super light, vibrant open air restaurant. I wanted to create something that Chelsea does not have already and I think I have done exactly that. We have made our mark!
What is your current favourite thing on the menu and what would you recommend to order?
It would have to be the crumpet; it has been on the menu since day 1 and has changed a few times since then but it is definitely a classic.
How do you relax with such a high intensity job?
As things have got more intense with taking more responsibility, taking time for myself has become so much more important. For me I try to just step away completely and I love to go out and eat at other restaurants and support others, seeing what else is going on in the city.
How would you describe your style?
I have always absolutely loved fashion. Being a chef means I don’t get to wear the most glam clothes on a daily basis so I make up for that when I am not in the kitchen. I do go through phases of what I like such as from minimalist and being a very white, black and grey kind of girl to just going full-on pink.
When did you first hear about Cefinn?
My sister and mother have been wearing Cefinn for a while now - plus the Cefinn pop-up is our neighbour on the King's Road.
What do you love about Cefinn?
I love how I can mix up the pieces so easily, making them casual when paired with a pair of trainers and then something completely different with heels and jewellery. The fit is also perfect for me.
What are your favourite pieces from the current collection?
My favourite pieces would have to be the Jamie Wool Grey Check Blazer which I love to pair with jeans and trainers for an everyday look, and the Stella blouse in Rust Lips Print for casual evening dinners. Oh, and the Jensen jumpsuit because the fit is literally perfect.