Five minute interview with Leah Kirkland, from Trinity in Clapham

LK Portrait

General Manager of Trinity

Leah began her career in hospitality in her hometown of Auckland, New Zealand, while simultaneously completing a Fine Arts Degree at Elam School of Fine Art. Having discovered her passion for the industry during this time, Leah decided to pursue a career in the hospitality field, joining Adam Byatt’s team in Covent Garden in 2005.

Leah was part of the core team behind the opening of Trinity in 2006, where it earned 3 AA Rosettes and Time Out’s Restaurant of the Year Award within its first year of business.  In 2015, Leah oversaw the reopening of Trinity after a large refurbishment and headed up the launch of Adam’s newest restaurant, Upstairs at Trinity, that same week. 

Hi Leah, or should I say kiaora to a fellow NZer!

So tell me, how did you make the journey from studying at New Zealand’s premier fine arts school, to managing one of the finest restaurants in London? (and a personal favourite!)

My love of art brought me to Europe, realising a lifelong goal to tour the top galleries in search of inspiration and learning. After a few months, and when the pennies ran low, I jumped over the channel to earn funds to travel again, thinking a six-month stint would do it. I started working for Adam two days later. That was 11 1/2 years ago.

What exactly does your role entail?

I oversee our three restaurants; Trinity, Upstairs and Bistro Union, from a financial, operational and front of house perspective. A day-in-the-life varies greatly, which is one of the reasons I love my job. But the guest service side, for me, is the jewel in the crown.

I see that you are also the sommelier! For a novice but enthusiastic wine fan like me, what new and exciting wines have you got on your books right now?

I won’t go as far to say ‘sommelier’, we don’t have that role within our company, however I am wildly passionate about wine and oversee the wine program in both sites. We have been focusing on acquiring older vintages recently and I’m really excited about Northern Rhone. Being able to list 1982 Cornas from Auguste Clape, 1996 Hermitage from Chave alongside more modern producers like Mark Haisma’s 2014 Cornas (the vintage I picked with him) is very special.

 

I note that you oversaw the opening of Upstairs at Trinity – which I reviewed and loved in 2015. How has it been going?

Upstairs was one of the most successful openings I’ve been a part of… it was certainly a challenge re-opening a newly refurbished Trinity at the same time, but Upstairs just clicked and has gone from strength to strength. It has also become such a great platform for wine dinners and guest chef evenings, it is great to have a space so well suited to events.

 

Let’s say that I’m coming for dinner soon with my wife, what seasonal dishes would you recommend and what should I drink?

I would highly recommend starting with our house cured Charcuterie plate to share - a long-standing project that finally came to fruition when we reopened Trinity - with a glass of Herbert Hall Rosé – a standout English sparkling wine producer whose Rosé is grown-up and savoury. We have a Brill dish on at Trinity that is baked on the bone and served with decadent and silky creamed potato, monk’s beard and a sauce made from all the cooking liquor; reduced down, with crème fraiche whisked in just before serving. It is a great match with a vibrant and complex Saumur Blanc from Château Yvonne, 100% chenin blanc from a tiny plot in the Loire. If you’re dining Upstairs – we have a great red Beaujolais section that works with so many of the sharing plates… or tuck into the top-quality wine on tap!

Finally, when you are not at work where do you like to eat and / or drink?

We are very fortunately in London to have such an extensive range of places to eat and drink. That said, I often find myself at the same places! The Laughing Heart in Hackney has a stunning and eclectic wine list and great hospitality. Eating cheese and charcuterie at The Winemakers Club is a favourite, and for an absolute treat – The Ledbury is a must.

Trinity, 4 The Polygon, London SW4 0JG