M Restaurants has revealed the overall winner of the 2019 Young Chef of the Year competition at a winner’s dinner held at M Victoria Street this week. From 16 finalists, Matthew Hurry from Laurent Café Royal claimed poll position after being awarded the most points from paying customers and guest judges at his pop-up at M Victoria earlier in the year.
Coming in close behind were Luke Bryan, Kricket; Jamie Warley, St Ermins Hotel; and Jordan Kerridge, The Stafford London. The top four treated guests at the winner’s dinner to a four-course supper made up of dishes served at their respective pop-up events.
Now in its third year, the contest aims not only to find the best young talent already in the kitchens of London and across the UK, but also to encourage others into starting up a career in the hospitality industry. In the looming shadow of Brexit, M recognises that now more than ever is the time to celebrate young talent and bolster morale in the hospitality sector. Staff shortages are continuing to rise, and the industry faces some of its toughest challenges yet with approximately 20,000 chefs leaving the industry year on year.
The finalists, all chefs under the age of 30, hailed from some of the best restaurants across London and the rest of the UK. Battling it out for the top spot were representatives from a wide range of high-end and more accessible restaurants including brilliant London-based Indian restaurants; Kricket and The Cinnamon Club, Boodle’s Gentlemen’s Club and one Michelin-starred Umu.
They were selected after submitting an original four-course menu at £45 per head, together with costings for 50 covers. The chefs all suitably impressed M’s Culinary Director Mike Reid and were then invited to M Victoria Street to cook in a series of pop-up takeover nights from 9-31 July, with diners and judges voting for their favourite young chef. The voting criteria was based on the quality of the cooking and marketing on the night. This year the competition also addressed another pressing matter with marks awarded to chefs for their sustainable sourcing of ingredients and resourceful handling of food waste.
Guests and judges, including M founder Martin Williams, Mike Reid and other chefs and food personalities including James Knappett, Felicity Spector and Sabrina Gidda, sampled special dishes throughout the pop-up nights but were ultimately won over by Matthew Hurry’s menu of Chilled courgette velouté with peppermint emulsion, followed by Poached lobster with lobster bisque and coral tuille.
Matthew served up a Cannon of lamb, coriander crust, pommes Anna, artichoke and a rosemary lamb jus, ending in a Pineapple and spiced rum upside-down cake.
On crowning Matthew, the winner, Mike Reid commented: “Matthew’s menu was outstanding, and he is a worthy winner. Anyone of the top four could have walked away with it, that’s how high the level of cooking was. These chefs have a fantastic future ahead of them.”