Chef Fergus Henderson of St. John - Biography

London, UK

March 2012

The son of two architects and a self-taught chef, Fergus Henderson has become known as the “father of offal” and is considered a major influence on such chefs as David Chang and Mario Batali. “It’s only polite to eat the whole animal,” Henderson is fond of saying (and writing). He’s also not shy about knocking other food trends, like sous-vide cooking and seasonality (though he adores when it’s done right, as at Noma).

Henderson first received some notice when taking over the dining room at The French House in London. He later met restaurateur Trevor Gulliver (known for Wine Wharf and Brew Wharf) and the duo bought an abandoned smokehouse in a dilapidated neighborhood on the edge of London, opening St. John with Henderson's wife Margot. At St. John, Henderson received his first Michelin star in 2009 and won several other awards, including Moët & Chandon’s Best Overall London Restaurant in 2001. In 2011 he opened St. John Hotel in London, complete with another restaurant.

Outside of the kitchen, Henderson has become something of a hero for how he has dealt with receiving news in 1996 that he has Parkinson’s Disease, which relegated him to more of a supervisory role in the kitchen. Almost a decade later, he underwent deep brain stimulation—a process in which a “brain pacemaker” is implanted in the skull to control neural impulses—to control his shaking. After the procedure, he quipped: “They drilled into my skull. Now I can cook again.”

Henderson has written two books on offal: 1999’s Nose to Tail Eating: A Kind of British Cooking, and the 2007 sequel Beyond Nose to Tail. He also has plans to write another book (fiction, this time) in the near future.