Lilian co-owner Willy Gresson on France, fridge essentials and the one food he can never forgo

As the co-owner of Grey Lynn hotspot 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.

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


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.

Next place I’d like to go to
It’s probably going to be somewhere in New Zealand, considering the current situation. I would love a week of skiing with a few mates at my parents’ bach in Queenstown.

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. 

On my wish list is
To buy a house.

The last thing I added to my wardrobe was
New undies from Wears. They’re seriously comfy and made from sustainable material in Portugal.

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.

An indulgence I would never forgo is

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
Pep Guardiola – Another Way of Winning – The Biography. I love football (soccer) and he is one of the most passionate and successful managers of our time.

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 is (if price is not an issue)
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
Culprit has a really different style of service to anywhere I have been before and the food was amazing. It came highly recommended from Otis, our head chef at Lilian and certainly didn’t disappoint. 

The podcasts I listen to are
I’ve never been big on podcasts. Maybe it’s time to get into them.

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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