Read our guide to the UK’s best chefs to look out for in 2018…
Essex-born Damien Wager has spent much of the past decade working in the kitchens of Cornish restaurants and hotels, but it is since joining the 2 AA Rosette Beechfield House Hotel in Wiltshire as executive pastry chef that his stunning desserts, such as his take on a Black Forest gateau, featuring a cherry mousse with kirsch liquid centre, chocolate sable, compressed cherries and chocolate ganache, have gained wider attention. Still only 27, Damien says his long-term ambition is to launch his own patisserie business back in his adopted home of Cornwall.
Roasted turbot on the bone with poached potatoes, smoked mussel fritters, samphire, charred cucumber, crispy capers, warm cucumber and herb emulsion is one reason why Bath Priory-trained chef Joe Simmonds is drawing a crowd at The Beach at Bude. Another is that he was recently awarded two AA Rosettes – the first time the boutique hotel has won anything – putting Bude officially on the map.
Since he left Kitty Fisher’s in Mayfair, former YBF Young Chef of the Year Tomos Parry has spent his time doing residencies, most of them based around cooking over fire. The big news is that he is opening his own east London restaurant in 2018. He says: “It will be counter dining with grills in the middle, very much inspired by Japanese yakitori restaurants. As a Welshman, I am passionate about using Welsh produce and I’m working with farmers and fishermen to improve the supply chain to London.”
After stints at Raymond Blanc’s Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and Tom Kerridge’s Hand & Flowers, Tom Brown spent five years working for Nathan Outlaw, first in Cornwall and then as head chef of Outlaw’s at The Capital in London. And now he has flown the nest to open his own restaurant, Cornerstone in Hackney Wick, which is due to open in spring 2018. Serving the “clean and simple” dishes he has become known for, it’s sure to be one of London’s hottest new openings. Check out his Instagram feed if you need any more persuading. @cheftombrown
Located just off Bermondsey Street in Southwark, Londrino is one of the launches of the year. The Portuguese chef behind it, Leandro Carreira, cut his culinary teeth at Mugaritz in Spain, then moved to London to work with Nuno Mendes. Leandro says the menu will make use of Portuguese ingredients as seen through the eyes of a chef who calls London home. “There is a nod to Portugal, but I don’t want the creative process to end there.”
Jerry Adam took over the kitchen of Penally Abbey Hotel near Tenby during the summer of 2017 after working at Michelin-starred Welsh foodie destinations Llangoed Hall and Ynyshir. Using produce from the stunning Pembrokeshire coast, Jerry ferments, pickles and preserves a lot of his ingredients. “I’ve done a lot of research about food and I try to make sure every dish I send out is made up of 50% raw ingredients,” he says. “I haven’t put a name to my style of food as such but I use a lot of natural ingredients like soy, tofu and miso. I try to forage as much as I can, such as seaweed, sea vegetables, and berries, herbs and vegetables from the gardens here at Penally.”
As you might expect from a chef who worked closely with Rick Stein back in the day, Roy Brett knows his seafood, as his acclaimed Edinburgh restaurant Ondine has proved. In spring 2018, Roy will be teaming up with a local fishmongers to open a smart new fish and chip restaurant at Newhaven fish market near Leith, complete with an extensive shellfish menu and oyster bar.
After cooking at the highest level for Simon Rogan at L’Enclume in Cumbria and Fera at Claridge’s, Dan Cox decamped to a 120-acre organic farm in Cornwall, where he now plans to launch a restaurant within the courtyard buildings. Crocadon Farm at St Mellion will supply the produce and livestock for the restaurant, which is due to open in 2018 and will also have its own microbrewery and pottery for local ceramicists. Dan says: “We want the food and the farm to grow together as one, becoming something unique and harmonious – an interaction and food experience that can only be possible when the restaurant is at the heart of the farm.”
Durham-born Nick Grieves worked in the construction business before teaching himself to cook. After working at The River Café in London he returned to the north-east to open The Patricia in Jesmond in December 2016. Nick says: “I believe restaurants should be about fun, so we don’t get too technical – we cook good ingredients and let the seasons tell us what goes together.” the-patricia.com
After years of running successful pop-ups, co-founder of The Art of Dining Ellen Parr could be set to do something a little more stationary. “I’m yearning for a permanent space as I feel it will give me so much more time to develop even more exciting dishes,” reveals Ellen. She started her career at Moro, but doesn’t rule out a return to Bristol, where she grew up. “Bristol is a great city for food and really exciting at the moment, but I’m also trying to take Moro to New York to do a pop-up there.” theartofdining.co.uk
Sara Lewis made her name at the Grain Store in King’s Cross, where legendary chef Bruno Loubet identified her as a rising star. She is now head chef at The Pilgrm, where she will oversee the food at the Paddington hotel’s Lounge restaurant. Sara says she is inspired by Loubet’s attitude to sustainability and his willingness to embrace wild, inventive ideas in the kitchen.
Restaurant 92 in Harrogate is fast becoming one of the go-to restaurants in Yorkshire thanks to the innovative seasonal dishes of 25-year-old head chef and co-owner Michael Carr. Whether it’s roasted spiced quail, watermelon, foie gras, balsamic and dukkah, or beef wellington, pomme purée and garlic kale, Michael’s return to his Yorkshire roots after a spell in London (working for Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s and Alyn Williams at The Westbury, no less) has been embraced by Harrogate foodies. restaurant92.co.uk
Jake and Cassie White
After collectively working in London for Marcus Wareing, Tom Aikens and Hélène Darroze, husband and wife team Jake and Cassie White are shaking up Cumbria’s dining scene at Pentonbridge Inn, a restaurant-with-rooms in the tiny hamlet of Penton, near Carlisle. Local produce drives the menu, including fruit, vegetables and herbs from the walled garden and greenhouses at nearby Netherby Hall, which Jake and Cassie have been cultivating, alongside the head gardener. pentonbridgeinn.co.uk
Housed inside four upcycled shipping containers, Sheffield restaurant Jöro specialises in what head chef and co-owner Luke French calls “new Nordic” cuisine inspired by the Scandi approach to locality, care of ingredients and a simplicity of cooking, but with a nod to Japanese cooking techniques. “In a nutshell, we call it a ‘Scandi-Jap mash-up’,” says Luke, whose signature dishes include asparagus, pickled spruce and blackcurrant leaves, and brown butter ice cream, aerated white chocolate and miso. And it’s not just lucky Sheffield locals who appreciate Luke’s food – Jöro entered the Good Food Guide after only a few months of business late last year, its inspectors praising the “no-holds-barred seasonal cooking”. jororestaurant.co.uk
At the age of 23, Bonny Porter was the youngest ever finalist on MasterChef: The Professionals back in 2012, and since then she has gone on to launch Soho’s meatball restaurant Balls & Company. The Australian chef has plans aplenty for 2018, with a new restaurant planned for the first half of the year and the return of her International Women’s Day celebration, which last year saw London’s best female chefs come together to mark their female culinary inspirations. She says: “I’m looking forward to bringing something different to the capital with my second restaurant – it will still be Balls & Company, but there will be a bigger focus on our bar concept.” ballsandcompany.london