Five minutes with…  Ramael Scully

The celebrated Malaysian-born chef has recently opened his first solo restaurant in St James's after seven years at the helm at Nopi. Here he talks about his passion for food, his inspirations and his favourite places to eat

Food and Drink 12 Apr 2018

Ramael Scully
Scully Restaurant

Who is your role model, and why?

It’s my mum. The reason I say that is because my mum got divorced when I was just born, it wasn’t planned, it just happened. My dad is not a creep, but he’s behind the scenes. So Mum brought us up, and she took us to Australia, which really helped me to become a better man. She always pushed me to look after myself. Basically, she helped me learn to be an adult and be mature about life. And Mum always has this thing: as long as you’re paying the bills, you’ve got a house and you’ve got a bed, you’re doing well enough. Having luxury items is not important – it’s about the little things and priorities in life, so she’s definitely a role model to me.

What is your favourite place to eat in London, apart from Scully, and why?

I don’t get out much these days! I do like going to places where I know the bartender or the chef, so when I do it’s comfortable. I do like going to Berber and Q ( in Haggerston – Josh Katz [Berber and Q chef-owner] is a friend of mine, so every time I go there his staff are always welcoming. Then there’s times I might want to head to Victory Mansion on Stoke Newington High Street ( – my bar manager from Nopi opened up this place – they do great tacos that go well with cocktails. When I need to wind down on a Sunday night, I go there, that’s my hangout joint.

How do you like to spend a day off?

When I do get one, I like to read a lot. I do a lot of reading in my spare time and put my feet up. I think when you get a bit older in life you cherish the moments for yourself. I do go out with my friends, go out for a good meal, but lately it’s just a good cookbook – I’m always surrounded by cookbooks. I always try to read in the morning on my way in to work, I’m the only guy carrying a huge cookbook on the train. People are looking at me going, ‘what the heck are you carrying, man?’ They’re massive. But I always say to my chefs: ‘You could make 10 or 20 minutes a day in the morning and at night for putting knowledge in your brain – five days a week, you add that up through the year and you’re making a lot of time for gaining knowledge. And then, these days I love watching movies. I’m a very simple kind of guy, very relaxed. I might take a walk in the park. These days, with the restaurant opening, when I’m not at work, I’m not gonna lie to you, often I’ll just be in bed. I have one day off a week, which is mostly a Monday, and I just spend 10 hours during the day catching up on sleep, to be honest. Ask me again in two years time, hopefully it’ll be slightly better.

Apart from food and cooking, what are your other passions?

Other passions? That’s a tricky one! I don’t really have any. I had this conversation before: what would I do if food wasn’t number one in my life, and I haven’t got a clue, to be honest. Before I wanted to be a chef, I surfed a lot. Living in Australia surrounded by water, you’ve kind of got to teach yourself how to swim, and I thought being a marine biologist would be a great job. Luckily I didn’t do it, because I’ve met a marine biologist before, and it’s not what you think it is. I’m totally devoted to food. And I’m one of the lucky chefs out there, I do some consulting in restaurants, they’re great people, the chefs I teach to make salad, but for them it’s just a job, it pays the bills, looks after the family. I look at food and it makes me happy. When you serve people food at a great dinner party and everyone just keeps quiet, you know you’ve done something right: you make them smile, it brings people together. Food and alcohol, you can’t go wrong with it. That’s why it’s 110% part of my life, I guess.