Food Festival Interview: Richard Bell from The Three Stags

Richard tells how living in a village in Bali inspired the ethos of his gastropub The Three Stags.

You won’t find many publicans in London who are obsessed by yoga, bees and herb gardens.

But Waterloo has one.

Richard Bell has run The Three Stags in Kennington Road since 2008, and for the past four years he has been on a mission to provide great sustainable food with an ethical stance.

One element of this has seen him introduce a bee hive on the roof, and today a swarm looks down on the Imperial War Museum as it buzzes amongst the chervil, thyme and rosemary which is grown for the dishes prepared downstairs.

Richard said: “Originally I heard the honey bee was disappearing world wide  - and bees pollinate a third of our food.

“I got the hive to get people to talk about bees and their future. We have a lot to learn from their way of life.”

Richard told he originally took over the pub as he wanted to find a vehicle for his love of food.

Having studied hotel management at university, he had spent 10 months in the 1990s in a remote village in northern Bali and the rest of his working life in the pub, club and restaurant industry.

He said: “My time in Bali had a massive effect on me.

“The village I lived in was completely sustainable. There were no shops and the livestock lived with them. They got everything from the forest and the rice fields.

“Everything was completely natural, which is what I fell in love with and why I stayed so long.”

After returning to England Richard spent three years running The Windsor Castle pub in Notting Hill before looking for a new premises.

He first viewed The Three Stags while it was closed for internal refurbishments.

He said: “I peaked through the window and I just saw a dining room – I didn’t see a pub.

“It was exactly what I was looking for.”

Since his move to Waterloo Richard has seen The Three Stags achieve the highest rating possible from The Sustainable Restaurant Association.

He has also become a vocal supporter of Ethical Eats, Fish Fight and the campaign to save the Honey Bee, as well as enjoying a new found love of yoga.

But despite the growing reputation of the pub and his regular appearances in the media, Richard is convinced there are still parts of Waterloo which don’t know about the pub.

Because of this he has got involved in the Waterloo Quarter Food Festival – a month long celebration of all things gastronomic in Waterloo.

At lunchtime on September 6th he will demonstrate how to cook a dish from the pub opposite The Old Vic.

He will also be running a special offer throughout September as part of the festival.

He said: “I still believe there are a lot of people in Waterloo who do not know we are here. The food festival will help with that.

“And its great to rub shoulders with all the brilliant food businesses in Waterloo.”

You can find more information on The Three Stags here.