For Luke Butcher, the journey towards becoming one of the country’s most sought-after young chefs has been fraught with challenge. The Birmingham-based chef originally trained in Marlow’s The Hand and Flowers, where he regularly worked 16-day stretches of 15-hour shifts.
According to the kitchen maestro, it’s all part of the “chef experience.” Those cramped kitchens and stressful weeks were good for more than just character building: The challenge allowed the chef to make some of his most important connections and friendships along the way. Luke is no stranger to Michelin-starred kitchens. The young chef worked in Adlards, Norwich, from the age of 15, where he worked on his skills with none other than Tom Kerridge. Luke moved with Tom to The Hand and Flowers, where he developed much of the skill and experience which has earned him such acclaim in his current role as Head Chef and Pastry Chef at Purnell’s, Glynn Purnell’s one-star Michelin restaurant.
Luke Butcher, Purnell’s
Like many top chefs, Luke Butcher fell into the industry by accident. As a child, he was fascinated in the kitchen by the skills of his mother and grandfather, who regularly cooked meals from scratch. Memories of visiting Falmouth Market and spending summer holidays deshelling prawns instilled in Butcher the love of food and cooking. It was the love of cooking realised in this young chef that has enabled him to garner so much success. Located in one of Birmingham’s best-conserved city centre areas, Purcell’s restaurant was awarded a Michelin star in 2009 and is owned by celebrity chef Glynn Purcell, whose innovative creations can be found on the menu.
Georgina Dent, Murano
As a winner of The Observer’s Best Young Chef, Dent is now recognised as an extremely driven cook with a sturdy, feisty character to boot. Weekends spent cooking with her father and grandfather instilled in her a love of food and cuisine, with the young girl becoming hooked on cooking programmes by the age of 10 years old.
Georgina Dent embarked on her kitchen career at the tender age of 15 – within two years, the young chef had earned herself a place in Nathan Outlaw’s kitchen in Cornwall. Based in Rock in Cornwall, the restaurant pushed dent towards honing her skills as one of the most impressive young chefs in the country.
Years later and Dent practices her skills in Hartnett’s Murano restaurant – one of Mayfair’s most sought-after eateries. Here, Dent has flourished – despite being a female chef in a kitchen dominated by men. Whilst porters and chefs fill the kitchen with swearing, shouting and kitchen banter, Dent opts to keep her head down, learning as much as she can along her incredible journey. Dent looks back to her youth as the key inspiration behind her pursuit of life as a chef. As a schoolgirl, the future chef worked on a fruit and veg stall. Whilst only earning a meagre £70 for her efforts, Dent recognises that handling all of those ingredients represented valuable experience. Behind her, however, is an acknowledgement that the profession is fraught with challenge. According to Dent, the best chefs in the country should be prepared to surrender their social lives in the name of good food.
Murano is based in Mayfair, London, and is owned by celebrity chef Angela Hartnett. Opened in 2008, the restaurant has been awarded a Michelin star and 4 AA rosettes for its exemplary food, service and wine.
Matt Gillan, Pike & Pine
Like many leading chefs across the world, Matt Gillan’s kitchen career began immediately following his departure from school in his native county of Hampshire. Early plans to pursue a career in graphic design were abandoned when Gillan realised his talents as a chef. With skill and good luck, Gillan was immensely fortunate to train under the watchful eye of industry giants Gordon Ramsey and Daniel Clifford, before returning to the shore of England to head up The Pass Restaurant in West Sussex’s South Lodge Hotel.
Since flourishing in the position of head chef at The Pass, Gillan has come out with a series of dishes which effectively combine international influences with traditional British produce. Defined as “progressive British”, the culinary decisions taken by Matt Gillan earned the young chef a Michelin star in early 2011. Indeed, it is no surprise that Gillan’s series of pop-up restaurants in Brighton have attracted immense popularity.
More recently, however, Gillan has become celebrated for his efforts in transforming the Red Roaster, a coffee house based in Brighton. Under the direction of Gillan, the Red Roaster will transform into Pike and Pine in the evenings, offering world-class food in the relaxed setting of a contemporary coffee shop.
Described as “Michelin-star food for a tenner,” the success behind Pike and Pine continues to grow.