Neil Rankin was a rebel long before he was a chef. He was always rebellious. I only know this because I lived with him at university and we’ve remained good mates ever since.
I knew when I met him that he was a special blend of fun and trouble. He wasn’t a rebel because he swore a lot, took drugs and loved going out: you’d expect little else of a student who’d escaped his home in Edinburgh to come and party in late-1990s Manchester.
No, Neil was a rebel because even when he’s had to face up to almost impossible odds – be it a fight he knew he couldn’t win or life deciding that a given day seemed a good time to be cruel to Neil – he never stopped believing in himself.
Neil Rankin is nothing if not self-aware and he doesn’t do airs and graces. Or as he’d probably say in his growly Edinburgh drawl, he doesn’t pretend to be ‘a posh twat’. Moreover, he stands his ground, fights and argues tirelessly for what he sees as right and fair and will call out cowardice or wrong no matter what might happen to him as a result. I’ve seen it many times.
Anyone who follows him on social media has seen it:
Anyone he’s hired to work with him has seen it:
Are you a fucking good head Chef, sous chef or any chef and want to work in an exciting open kitchen with killer vibes and huge big open fire pit. Do you want to butcher whole animals and have a career where we don’t do the same boring shit all the time in a little white room. Do you want to burn your arms a bit, get chirpsed by customers and make food from some of the best produce in the world while blasting out 80’s pop and 90’s hip hop. If this sounds like the sort of thing you’d like get in touch now 👍 p.s roles available at all 3 sites.
And, as a guy who’s more interested in cooking delicious meals for diners than he is in winning a Michelin Star, his customers have seen it. Or rather, they’ve tasted it.
Because the other thing about Neil is that he doesn’t really care for rules.
Already a successful chef before he opened his first Temper restaurant, he still had a job to do to convince his investors that a huge central firepit in a Soho venue on which to barbecue meat and serve with tacos and mezcals was a good idea.
By the time he opened his Temper ‘Two’ in London’s financial district his investors had seen the success of the first restaurant and were more ready to listen to Neil’s dream of mixing barbecue with curry.
Now, with two successful London restaurants under his belt and a third on the way (barbecue and pizza – of course – in Covent Garden), you’d be forgiven for thinking Neil Rankin has been at the food game his whole life. But in fact, he only really came to cooking in his thirties with some failed businesses and one failed marriage behind him.
Now he’s the talk of the London food scene – Temper in Soho was recently named Best Newcomer in the Observer Food Monthly awards and every critic from Grace Dent through Jay Rayner to Giles Coren has given rave reviews.
But Neil still talks and acts like he did when we were teenagers. He competes in Scotch Egg competitions for fun and will give up a night being a celebrity if there’s a Domino’s pizza on offer (if, that is, the Domino’s franchisee can replace the standard tomato sauce with the brand’s “far superior” sun-dried tomato sauce).
RebelTalk #1: It’s radical food for thought!
Mark Choueke is host of RebelTalk and co-founder of Rebeltech
- Temper, London: restaurant review by The Observer’s Jay Rayner
- Gordon Ramsay told to f*** off by top chef Neil Rankin over show about cocaine in restaurants
- Neil Rankin: “People have lost their passion for cooking good food”
- Read more about Neil on his website. You can also follow him on Instagram and Twitter.
RebelTalk is hosted by Mark Choueke, co-hosted by Nicole Lyons and produced by Meg Wright.
Episodes are recorded and engineered by Hard Six Audio.
Special thanks to Dillan Gandhi Media and Spiritland Studio.
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Mark Choueke (MC): This episode of RebelTalk is brought to you by Rebeltech – human stories for startups.
Clip: Episode preview
Hello welcome to RebelTalk a brand new podcast that celebrates rebels across every walk of life. Each episode we talk to the trouble makers whose predilection for bending the rules is driving progress change transformation.
I am your host Mark Choueke I’m here with Neil Rankin celebrated chef restaurateur and that guy who did something many of us have long aspired to do when he recently told Gordon Ramsay to fuck off. He’s the owner of London’s two, soon to be three, Temper restaurants and is known as much by his friends for his fiery outlook on life as he is by diners for his fiery cooking.
The Observer’s Jay Rayner recently wrote I love the fact that you can smell the wood smoke and the rendering meat from the door. I love the way that smell stays in your hair. Not for me though Jay I’m bald.
Neil, thank you for joining me.
Neil Rankin (NR): Thank you for having me.
MC: You started our conversation this morning with the words I only ever hear as your greeting. Go on say it.
NR: I’m a little bit hungover.
MC: You are a little bit hungover.
MC: What was last night?
NR: It was a Scotch egg challenge.
MC: What the fuck?
NR: ahh it’s just basically this thing they do every year. It’s in a pub in Islington and this guy Osh who is a nightmare and he’s a landlord and he gets everybody pissed. And–
MC: What is the competition though is it how many you eat?.
NR: No I mean you make 12 scotch eggs somehow you have to pay to be there which I didn’t really understand why I pay em 30 quid for me bringing free eggs to him and filling his restaurant. Yeah there was about 12 of London’s best chefs all making scotch eggs and getting absolutely smashed–
MC: And then just being judged yeah.
MC: Who else was there?
NR: I only know what time I got home from my uber receipt, which is quite common.
MC: What time was it?
NR: It wasn’t that late, that was worrying, I think it was like about half 12 yeah it felt like three.
MC: Thank you for being here. So Neil you and I live together in slightly fucked up circumstances during my days at Stanford University. Now what’s interesting to me about those days is that we lived together and we ate like shit.
NR: Well there was no good food.
MC: You quite literally never cooked anything good for me during that.
NR: I don’t I don’t think that’s true. I think I cooked some nice curries and I was really good at French toast.
MC: Yeah you are okay at french toast
NR: I used to make stacks of French toast basically I remember like a huge pile, like a mountain of french toast, that was all I could do.
MC: Neil Rankin the reason I’m fat. In fact lots about you lots about you so I was going to try and use that as a clever link but you proved me wrong. The link was going to be you never made me anything good and now look at you, you’re one of London’s most celebrated but actually, in fact lots of things about you have changed since then including your relationship with your home city of Edinburgh. Your career and life plan. So you studied acoustics so were dead set on being a scientist.
NR: What I mean I was no I don’t think I was dead set on being anything. I went to Manchester because it was Manchester.
NR: I wanted to go to man.
MC: What was, what was Manchester to you back then, was it, was it the music?
NR: Yeah yeah.
NR: Which we didn’t go to that often.
MC: We did a bit.
NR: We did a bit but we went to other places more.
MC: Yeah we did but come on try and make us a bit fucking cool. We did go to the house.
NR: We did go to the hacienda.
MC: I, I remember
NR: But It really wasn’t the coolest thing when we got there.
MC: I remember seeing the stone roses in the house
NR: Yeah. No you went more, cause you used to go to the INAUDIBLE, I was on house nights wasn’t I?
MC: Yeah. We went to the Boulders a bit but you know
NR: We went to Boulders alot.
MC: It was a strange and alien place to me.
NR: That was, yeah.
MC: Yeah but what has remained intact is your strength and sense of self and now the things I love about you as a man and of course uhh most people do when they hear you on TV or follow you on Twitter is that you just are determined to follow your own rules and nobody else’s. Now this this podcast is all about celebrating rebels and that’s why I thought of you. Tell me what happened with Gordon Ramsay.
NR: I was actually in a tube when I wrote that and I–
MC: What did you write?
NR: Well I read that he was doing this programme about chefs on cocaine and apparently highlighting that it was a problem within the industry and people at work and A, I just didn’t find that to be true. I mean I was not you know, you went to university with me so you know I wasn’t, I wasn’t one of the cleanest living guys before and actually when I started and became a chef, I didn’t drink I didn’t do drugs, I stopped smoking. I worked 18 hour shifts day after day. You know getting three, three hours a night to sleep you know I was really passionate about getting into and I, I worked my butt.
MC: But you put yourself up for that didn’t you?
NR: Yeah I worked fucking hard for it and–
MC: I mean you went into restaurants with a passion for that shit.
NR: At no point with drugs during those services, have helped me. I mean they don’t help you get better at stuff, they don’t help you fillet a fish better. You know uhh I mean I
MC: But you went into.
NR: But I also think my problem with him namely is that is his his attitude towards chefs this shouty fuck off you know, horrible way of bullying people which has made him famous.
MC: Is it not true?
NR: It’s not. It’s not the case anymore it just doesn’t happen anymore and I think think the fault, people that it does happen with tend to be people that have worked with him.
MC: And you were concerned about him portraying the industry in a bad way that wasn’t true?
NR: Yean and then saying everybody’s on drugs which just isn’t true. I mean you look at any you look at… I mean not to say that my chefs don’t go out afterwards and you know I’d be mad to think that the restaurant industry wasn’t rife with cocaine but not when you’re at work you know the same can be said for journalism the same can be said for the acting industry. The same can be said for the music industry the same can be said for almost any bloody industry you count it on. So to pin point you know–
MC: What was your problem with it? Was it about hiring new people and wanting to make it an industry that people were up for?
NR: I mean I just wanted to make a nicer industry you know we what we want people to want to join our industry and I don’t think his attitude towards this bullying mentality and also telling everybody on drugs really does us any favours.
MC: Did he come back at you?
NR: No he hasn’t said shit.
MC: So it was just–
NR: Of course he hasn’t. I mean everybody. The reason the story became big wasn’t because of what I said it was because of everybody else backing me up because everybody was like ah, somebody said it, you know. He’s a wanker.
MC: When you went looking for your new direction I knew you took a left turn into food was it always going to be food or were you just looking for something different to be successful and you were looking for a new a new way in because you know you said you talk about how we cook together and we were students we were we were little boys playing at real life. But you studied acoustics so I assume then you didn’t know anything about wanting to be a chef. Were you even into food?
NR: But I don’t think I, I mean I used to watch Ready Steady Cook.
NR: I think that was probably close, I loved it.
MC: Makes me think I could be a chef.
NR: Well no I mean as I got into i, that was the sort of beginning when food programs started to come out.
NR: And the idea of becoming a chef was a little bit more. I mean I mean I wouldn’t even consider as a career when I was at school I mean the only people I saw that were cooking were people making food for us at school, it didn’t look like a sexy career to me you know I didn’t want to be a dinner lady.
MC: You could have been.
NR: Well I could have been a dinner lady, I could have done that.
MC: But in terms of the kind of food you’re cooking and I’ve tasted both restaurants massively, we’ll talk about those in a minute and looking forward to the third. You know your loved by reviewers and you get your fair share of media exposure. You’ve got television and press in I saw you in South Africa last week, something that really looked interesting but you’ve chosen an area of cooking that’s unlikely to get you a Michelin star any time soon is that a thing to you.
NR: I I cook for people.
MC: What does that mean?
NR: Well I think about things being delicious and things being normal and things bein enjoyable, it’s not really about the food per say it’s about the whole overall experience. You come into my restaurant, it’s about enjoying yourself going out. Which is I think why people go out. You know very few people in this country go out for you know just the eating experience alone, which is why fine dining is kind of on the decline because without without the atmosphere without the enjoyment you know of going out, where are you. You know it’s got to be such a high level.
NR: And that’s not really the food I like eating so it would be disingenuous for me to be cooking that.
MC: What do you love eating?
NR: and Thai food.
NR: And Domino’s pizzas.
NR (clip from show): Barbecue, tacos, wine, mezcal but the Ham and Pineapple pizza tacos. I don’t know it’s just um, I don’t know, I’m a big Hawaiian pizza fan.
NR: That’s a lie, I don’t eat Domino’s. I banned myself from them but I did I did have a little umm…
MC: A little phase.
NR: I did have a phase when I was calling them at like 9 cause I worked out the app.
NR: Actually you could order at 9 and it will arrive at your door at like five past 11. So dangerous.
MC: Yeah before bed
MC: Or just in bed.
NR: Well no any time. Actually this guy René Redzepi who was the place Noma which is like the world’s best restaurant or whatever it was, was in my restaurant and this food journalist called me and he was like ‘René Redzepi is in your restaurant’, uh I was like oh
MC: Which one?
NR: And I said well I’m in Tooting. I should also I’ve just ordered a Domino’s. He was like Oh
MC: I’ll come over.
NR: And he said René wants to know what you’ve what you’ve what you’ve got on your Domino’s. I was like ooh yeah so it’s sun dried out garlic tomato sauce which is essential in a Domino’s by the way. You don’t go for the normal tomato sauce it’s terrible. Pineapple because I’m a heathen. Chilies and pork meatballs and he turned around and said Rennie likes your order tell him to enjoy your Domino’s. I had my Domino’s.
MC: Domino’s anything Neil Rankin says about your regular tomato sauce is his opinion only.
NR: now and would be proud to say that fact.
NR: The tomato sauce is terrible from Domino’s. It’s what lets it down.
MC: Let’s sit do a, to make sure in case there’s people out there that still haven’t been to Temper or Dominos or whenever, okay let’s not go there but let’s talk about Temper. Temper number one in the city temper, number two in Angel, give them give give listeners in case they haven’t been or want to spend some money on a great night out.
NR: Temper number 1 in Soho is aimed on mezcal and tacos. We buy whole cows we buy whole goats, we buy.
MC: You know how to butcher these things in the back.
NR: Yes we butcher them all ourselves and then we cook them all in different ways. We use every little part of the animal. There’s a sense of sustainability to it which I don’t think vegan people quite got. For example my restaurant uses one cow a week and sustainable from tiny little farms across England.
MC: You buy them direct.
NR: Something like Hawksmoor which has a similar level of business we use about 300 herd of cattle for that one restaurant. So you know there’s no argument to say that we would do it. They got offended by the whole animal barbecue thing because thinking I was going to put an animal on spit in the middle of the room. Actually I would have thought it was possible but but
MC: They thought it was just for theatre.
NR; They thought it was a theatre thing and It is a theatre thing. It’s fun and you know you sit and you sit in Temper.
NR: Around with lots of Mazcal, we’ve got loud hip hop playing you know we’ve got fire. You’ve got barbecue food, people getting a little bit dirty. Umm it’s a fun environment.
NR: It’s a night out.
MC: Your Temper in Angel in the financial district in London, is you know I love it for its food it’s it’s that one Smokehouse barbecue with Curry and the alcohol is absolutely exquisite. The sitting round the fire is brilliant the atmosphere is but what I really love is the crappy 80s music that you pipe through the whole time.
NR: Yeah yeah we did find there was a bit too much for lunchtime. We’ve changed it.
MC: Why what have you changed it to?
NR: Well it’s just kind of playing cause I didn’t I didn’t think the general business customers were getting it. You come in for a meeting and then you’ve got you know AHA playing in the background.
MC: I loved it
NR: I love it but I didn’t think they get it. It was sort of a tongue in cheek thing on American Psycho, I wanted to do in the city I just like the idea of doing a sort of American psycho.
MC: It’s my curry barbecued barbecued goat curry and Duran Duran who knew
NR; Yeah exactly.
MC: who knew.
NR: Phil Collins and masala
MC: But and and just before you, I think went really really big cause so because since we’ve last sat down and spoken you’ve won Observer Food Monthly’s new chef of the year and
MC: New restaurant of the year. Which is just fabulous and it’s a great great thing to have but it feels like you went really big about a year ago two years ago where I just turned around and saw my old mate everywhere. But before that you got yourself a little Niche as kind of rather crassly called our barbecue King or our charcoal King.
MC: You were talking on TV a bit about taking charcoals from all over the world because of the different smoke flavours. There’s a Michael Pollan book called Cooked
NR: Yeah I really like it. I’ve seen the one on Netflix.
NR: He does the series it’s one of the best TV series
MC: Oh really
NR: And I’m really really really good.
MC: But I feel like you’ve prioritized that commitment to simplicity and great cooking above being whatever restaurant industry calls a perfect chef.
NR: Yeah I mean it’s about well enjoyment though isn’t it. It’s not about, I’m not. It’s not about taking your ego at the food. It’s not you know it’s not ego cooking. It’s you know I’ve got chefs in a restaurant that I can either sit them in the back kitchen give them little water baths and know scientific equipment and let them time to get these little perfect little bits of meat or I can light a big fire in the middle of the room and throw them in the deep end and just get them to chuck bits of meat about and cut up whole animals. You know one one would give you more precise you know I don’t think more delicious but you know more Mitchell worthy food and the other one is more fun to work with and I think that that comes out in the food you know it’s not always perfect
MC: Is that how.
NR: Nothing’s nothing’s always perfect
MC: Is that how you sold it to investors? Cause I’m interested in the people that backed you guys and gave you the money to build these beautiful restaurants with these great fire pits in the middle and people having a good time but with no two meals ordered the same look the same it’s about good food. How did you sell it to them I mean?
NR: They didn’t I mean they didn’t they didn’t get it at first. They now they now love it obviously. But they initially they came in “Yeah I don’t get this” and then we started doing you know six eight hundred people a day. Oh I get it now.
MC: But it was a Gambit for them was it?
NR: Now I don’t think so I mean you know I’ve done you know I’d opened four successful restaurants on the trott that had made money, so I guess I had a track record in that and there was enough around me to attract attention media attention and my idea was good. You know I mean it was something nobody was doing before and and they looked at the monetary side of the whole animal thing is quite interesting because obviously we we buy meat a lot cheaper than other places and meat prices are high at the moment. So I think it’s the only way you can go and the theatre aspect they got it you know, that you sat there you sat there and you go to a guy you say well let’s let’s build a restaurant in the middle of the Soho, with a six meter fire pit in the middle of the room loads of tequila and mazcal and barbecue food. It’s like yeah that’ll work.
MC: Yeah it’s like kids.
MC (clip): If you’re having the time of your life on this podcast why don’t you tell us about it by leaving us a review. We’d love to hear from you.
MC: That leads me a little bit back onto the the vegan stuff because so so the story goes roughly that you were somehow for some reason targeted by some really extreme vegans. Not all vegans by any means are really extreme little group that sent you vile abuse the whole time and what was really really impressive about that thing before they literally drove your off Facebook was you spent about six months genuinely trying to engage them and talk to them and explain to them and talk about some of the way you sourced meats and how much you care and also even about you know I’m not all about meat I think we should eat less meat and treat it as a premium. You tried work really hard.
NR: I don’t think, I didn’t that, I mean the extremists are extremists you know you talk of extremists in any walk of life you know you’re never going to convince them around any sort of extremism is tend to be a bit shit. You know there’s no there’s no extremist behaviour that’s good.
MC: That should be a T-shirt shouldn’t it? Extremism just a bit shit.
NR: I think when talking to these people it wasn’t these people that I was trying to convince. I was more trying to convince the people around these people.
MC: Right so
NR: The people that look to these people you know you’re not you’re not
MC: There was a bit of purpose behind you trying.
NR: Yeah I mean I think I I I believe in the vegan cause I think it’s you know. I get what they’re saying. I don’t think they fully understand the nature of farming in this country. They don’t, everything I watch/watched cows seriously is like have you seen cows? Yeah I’ve seen it. You know it’s about America it’s not about the UK. You know this is about a production line that you’re demonizing which you are quite right to demonize and I’m against it too which doesn’t happen in this country or in most of Europe. You know so I don’t understand why you keep on coming up with these numbers ‘ohh you know it’s the end of the world’. ‘Oh INAUDIBLE’. These are little cows that I’m amusing that run a grazing field that is purely naturally irrigated. You know it’s water that’s coming down, there’s no extra water used up. Nobody nobody is starving from water because this cows eating it. It’s natural land that’s getting fertilized by the cow. If you take these cows off this land a. You don’t fertilizer and b you wouldn’t be to plant anything on it cause it has the wrong irrigation profile and see these you know these farmers they herd these cattle not for not for profit they’re not trying to make big bucks for these things. Tends to be for the fertilizer and the fact that you know they have this spare bit of land that that’s what they’re doing with it. You know
MC: Let’s I’ve said I was impressed with you for engaging with them. I think you’re going down a road you’ll never come back out alive if you if you. I believe you but when you say look I believe in the vegan cause, it’s like they’re never they’re never going to take that from.
NR: No their not! No I mean I don’t expect them to. I mean the the difference of opinion is I’m probably closer to their level of thinking than most people.
MC: Yeah. So so moving away from vegans.
NR: Vegans and Gordon Ramsey.
MC: I feel like one the one thing I’d have never have guessed is how comfortable you are with what I call fame. And one of my colleagues said to me ‘Do you think Neil, is that a fair question cause do you think, Neil feels he’s famous?’ and I don’t know if he feels famous because in the public eye and people know who he is and I get a lot of people, I mean I literally right off the back of our friendship I tell you laughs but quite quite brutally. But you deal with fame in quite a comfortable way it seems in fact you don’t hold back when it’s time to take to Twitter and voice your opinion on stuff outside of food. You’re not holding back and yet you’re in the public eye. Is there any conflict in you at all?
NR: My PR. There’s quite a lot of conflict with my PR.
MC: How does your PR feel? I mean you get a shit load of great PR.
NR: Yeah I know but it but it does. And then it gets… I’m just being honest you know and I’ve always done that and I guess I think that’s why more people follow me and that’s why people come to me because there’s that sense of that you know
MC: It’s really you.
NR: I’m not bullshitting, I’m never racist, I’m never sexist, I’m never you know anti things you know that I shouldn’t be. I’m not an “-ist” person.
MC: But I mean the fame side is it comfortable for you?
NR: I mean no I don’t really see it as that you know and I know I’m not the level of fame where it’s…
MC: It’s a bit you can uncomfortable.
NR: I’m at the perfect level as in I get respect from my peers which is exactly what I want.
NR: But I don’t you know I don’t get weird people coming up to me in the street. I mean a friend of mine
MC: What never?
NR: No I mean some of my friends guys like Professor Green and people like that I mean we’re in a restaurant and he’ll just, people just come up you know harass him and I wouldn’t want that.
NR: Just seems, that would be uncontrollable.
MC: You were always up for being quite honest and and just helping people out. I remember the very very first time we met Neil and I grew up at university in an era believe it or not where email was a brand new thing and Salford University actually had an email room in halls where there were seven computers that used to queue for hours. To go and sit at one for 20 minutes and write an email it was very exciting
NR: Didn’t really get it.
MC: Neil and I were part of the same group in the early days of halls. He was somebody I hadn’t really spoken to yet but I could see was seemed like quite a strong silent type but with a bit of presence and I was quite impressed the first time we actually spoke, Neil and I were sat together in the email room and Neil’s first time in the email room he sent an email to everybody on the university faculty whose surnames began with ‘A’. And he wrote the following email. ‘Do you know that all of your names begin with ‘A’ your welcome love Neil’ to which he got an email back saying ‘You are now banned from email for the rest of your university career’.
So while I was high tech emailing the shit out of people Neil had to walk around campus talking to people
MC: Meeting. Yeah very funny. It was that was when I first became like this guy could be my pal.
NR: I didn’t really get the computer at all.
NR: I didn’t understand how far it would go out to people I think to about a million people.
MC: It went it went to like 20000 people in students and staff. They were all as unfortunate as one another to get your email but.
NR: It was helpful I think
MC: Yeah. Tell me this you and I are both from outside of London but you’ve made your name and hopefully your fortune here. Are you a Londoner?
NR: Yeah I am, I am indeed. I consider myself a Londoner
NR: Yeah I mean I still look back to Edinburgh as being you know where I grew up but I don’t I don’t feel at home. I feel very home here I love the multiculturalism I think that, that’s what comes out my food. You know if you look at what we’re doing in the restaurant up people like why you, why would you make a weird Japanese curry thing? Why would you do this? That’s you know and I believe that’s what London’s given me. It’s given me
NR: Opportunity to be seen in many different cultures and stuff that I didn’t really grow up with think that’s what’s lacking in Edinburgh. I love Edinburgh for Edinburgh and I love it. It’s a beautiful beautiful city and it’s getting much better now but multicultured it isn’t you know.
MC: Last time we spoke you said you don’t often get back there and the only thing that jarred with me is that your, you know your family still there your mum your brother, your step dad.
NR: Yeah but my brother comes down and my mum. I was there the other week and did a talk at my old school.
MC: Oh really how did go?
NR: It was good it.
MC: Was like Watson’s?
NR: No, Merchiston.
MC: Oh right
NR: The place I went after that
MC: Oh expelled from Watson’s.
NR: No I didn’t get expelled from Watson’s. I got I got moved to the boarding school
MC: I’ll take your word for it.
NR: It was like yeah I had to tell them that as well. They were like ‘So why did you come here? Cause it was like
MC: I got moved yeah
NR: I got deserved punishment. Because if you do badly at school you’ll get sent to Merchiston.
MC: You went to talk to the current students .
NR: Yes it’s like a healthy eating week.
MC: Did it go well?
NR:Yeah and then taught some kids how to cook and it was good.
MC: What a really nice thing to do.
NR: It was really nice.
MC: The new restaurant your building an empire, Covent Garden. Pizza this time tell me about that.
NR: Well I like pizza
MC: Is that it?
NR: Do you like pizza?
MC: I love it.
MC: You know I do.
NR: So why wouldn’t I do a pizza restaurant? That’s my level of thinking it’s like you know like why you do a pizza restaurant? Do you like pizza? Yes. Well why wouldn’t I!
MC: What’s the Monster Munch thing though, you love monster munch? like
NR: Like that’s on one thing.
MC: Tell what it’s on.
NR: No I’ll tell you what it is, I’ll tell what it is. It’s on a crab taco and it’s it’s just a crumb. So what we do is we take the pork skin and we cook pork skin until it’s a sort of chicharrones. It’s really crunchy and we season it so we sort of blitz it up the Monster Munch because it’s that pickled onion. I couldn’t duplicate it in any other way. There’s a little bit that goes through it. But it’s delicious and it was only a mistake because we were tasting. Basically I was doing everything in my flat so I’d have like a week before we opened Temper one and we were doing photographs of everything and doing all the media stuff and testing all the recipes. And we couldn’t get any pork skin. So I said to the guy: “I’ve got a little shop at my flat and just go down and see if they’ve got any puffed porks skin. If not get some Monster Munch because it looks the same you know.” So we chop that up into little bits and stuck it on just for the photograph and I went I’m going to try it I was like you know what this works.
MC: It works.
NR: It’s kinda weird we’ve moved to space readers now though, which I’m a little bit dubious about.
MC: Cheaper or?
NR: Yeah. I mean it’s just availability more than that it’s quite hard to get Monster Munch.
NR: I don’t know, I think I’m feeling a little bit like I’ve sold out. You know I’m not , I was a defender of monster munch and I, but other people I don’t know use space readers go to Monster Munch.
MC: I was both. We went swimming on a Monday and you could get both in the vending machine both 10p.
MC: Are you mellow because it feels like, as we’ve grown up together you’ve been a really steady guy. Great to know but you’ve always you’ve not loved an argument but you never backed down from one and you always stand your ground. Are you mellowing out? Are you happy now you’ve got two restaurants, one more on the way?
NR: I think yeah I mean look I have work worries and stress and things like that but I’m probably in the happiest place I’ve been.
NR: Ever. I was thinking about this morning actually, I was thinking I woke up a shocking hangover, and a dubious text message I sent last night, and I was like “ahh shit I shouldn’t have done that”. Actually it’s fun.
MC: Here’s an annoying thing. Why haven’t you aged?
NR: I think cause I’ve never been in the sun.
MC: Is that right?
NR: I think, I think that’s kinda the thing. I’ve never shaved, wet shaven and I’ve never gone in the sun.
MC: You literally look the same as you did.
NR: I think that’s the only thing cause I’ve never, I’m just basically Blue. There’s no theres no I don’t think you can age. It’s like most people look like a bit sundried tomatoes, they just get that wrinkly after a while. Whereas I think I’ve just never been in the sun.
MC: Well I’ve got the same face I’ll have till I’m 60
NR: I don’t really tan though when I go on holiday.
MC: Don’t you?
NR: Suddenly burn. And then it just peels off and that’s it.
MC: Well you look great.
NR: I reflect heat.
MC: 60 second rebellion with Neil Rankin rebel chef. Quickly advice to your 16 year old self.
NR: Don’t worry about exams just educate yourself. Learn a language.
MC: Your 16 year old self advice to the grown up you.
NR: Fuck off!
MC: Nice. I mean I remember that about you. I fell in love with that you.
NR: You see I could get as much advice to my 16 year old self and you’ll tell me to fuck off.
MC: The most important single character trait for any founder entrepreneur or leader
NR: Not fearing failure.
MC: Really have you failed?
NR: Yeah loads. Lost my entire business.
MC: You did lose a business.
NR: Fucked up three careers.
NR: Marriage. Piling on the pain. It is mostly a series of fuck ups.
MC: Yeah. The question for you’re given the power and money to solve one big global problem and one tiny annoying day to day small first world problem.
NR: Big problem plastic in the ocean. I think that’s going to fuck us.
MC: First world small problem that you would solve. What annoys you every day?
NR: It’s traffic here.
MC: Traffic yeah. What are you most excited about?
NR: The new restaurant opening.
MC: When’s it opening?
MC: Rebel chef Neil Rankin it’s always a pleasure. Thanks for coming down.
NR: Thank you for having me.
MC: Post-match analysis with the Rebeltech founders Nicole Lyons and Mark Choueke.
Nicole Lyons (NL): Hello.
MC: So Neil Rankin.
NL: So I love when you get Neil in a room especially you two together you’ve got great banter. It did leave me wanting more. I’ve got to be honest like you got you got to the end. He mentioned his fuckups in personal and professional life which was the stuff that everyone wants to hear about so it was it was great but it really did make me go okay with party.
MC: Yeah I think we’re going to do another one with Neil. There’s so much to cover with that guy. He’s got stories about coming out of where he was at university he’s got stories about being literally on life’s floor after having been having having had some pretty bad stuff happen to him and deciding on a new career and following it with vigor he’s had he’s had some serious fuck ups and I think I don’t think he’d be knowing Neil, Neil wouldn’t be against coming back and doing some more. So yeah I think there’s I think there’s room for another another go at that.
MC: That’s it for today’s episode of RebelTalk I’ve been your host much more making thank you so much for listening. My thanks go to our brilliant production team hard six audio to spirit London Kings Cross for the beautiful studio to my Rebeltecg colleagues and producers Nicole Lyons and Meg Wright right. Until next time, up the rebels.
MC: I’m here with Neil Rankin. Hello Neil.
NR: Hello Mark.
MC: That was sexy.