Lilian co-owner Willy Gresson on France, fridge essentials and finding new lockdown activities

As the co-owner of Grey Lynn local Lilian, alongside Hugo Baird and Otis Gardner Schapiro, Willy Gresson understands the ingredients of a successful restaurant. We asked him to serve up the details of his influences and inspirations.

My personal style is: Relaxed, comfortable, neutral colours  — being on your feet all day and night you want to be comfortable for sure, I like my t-shirts slightly baggy to give a bit of leeway in the winter months.

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The last thing I bought and loved was: New sunnies, can never have too many pairs of shades.

On my wish list is: To buy a house.


An unforgettable place I visited was: Chamonix, France. It was a family trip when I was 16 and one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. I would love to live in France for a while, learn the language and immerse myself in their culture and lifestyle.

The next place I’d like to go to is: Melbourne and Sydney. I still have a lot of friends and family that I haven’t seen in a while living in Sydney and would love to check out the dining scene in Melbourne.

An object I would never part with is: A gold ring I was given by my grandfather. I don’t wear it all the time but it’s a special family keepsake. 

The last thing I added to my wardrobe was: A pair of new pants from Commoners.

The person that inspires me: Peter Sullivan, my old boss at Chiswick Restaurant in Sydney. His leadership, passion and ethos in hospitality is something I look up to and try to pass on to my staff.

My favourite app is: Pinterest and Spotify. I love finding new things especially music.

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood it would be: Paddington, Sydney. I lived there for three years and it has pretty much everything you need from clothing, groceries, bars and restaurants.

Dylan Rieder

My style icon is: Dylan Rieder, seriously slick operator. R.I.P.

The best book I’ve read in the last year is: American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins.

I can’t miss an episode of: Don’t watch much TV but The Chase is always a good watch.

In my fridge you’ll always find: Anathoth Farm Tomato Relish and Best Foods mayo. Slap that on some Vogels with anything and you’re away laughing.

I recently discovered: During the lockdown I have been doing things I don’t usually have time for. Reading and bike rides are probably top of the list.

The people I rely on for my wellbeing are: My girlfriend, mum and dad. I also have an amazing group of tight friends and we all rely on each other in one way or another. I think surrounding yourself with people you admire and have fun with is hugely important for your wellbeing.

Ken Griffen’s work on the wall at Honey Bones

The one artist whose work I would collect (if price is not an issue) is: I’m not really an artsy person but I really like Ken Griffen’s work. We have one up in the cafe and people are always asking about it.

The last meal out I had that truly impressed me was: Pici, simple and delicious with great service.

The best gift I ever received was: I’d been eyeing up some shoes for a while, so a group of mates got together and bought them for my birthday. It meant more that they’d gone to the effort to work out what I’d love.

The last music I downloaded was: Mac Miller — Circles.

If I wasn’t doing what I am, I would be: I have no idea and have been doing hospo since I was still at school.


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