19 chefs to watch

By Restaurant

- Last updated on GMT

19 of the best new chefs from around the UK to watch

Related tags Kim Ratcharoen Adejoké ‘Joké’ Bakare Aaron Dalton Cynthia Shanmugalingam Ben Allen Sarah Hayward Larry Jayasekara Spencer Metzger Slutty Chef Max Coen

Some you will know already, others might not yet be on your radar, but all are going places. Here's a solid - but not definitive - list of the next generation of chef talent creating culinary waves across the country.

Kim Ratcharoen, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay


In 2022 Kim Ratcharoen returned to Gordon Ramsay’s eponymous flagship restaurant to take up the position of head chef, having previously risen through the ranks to become senior sous chef. The Thai-born chef has been marked out by Ramsay as “hugely talented” and we suspect much more is to come from her.

Corrin Harrison, Gwen


Former Ynyshir head chef Corrin Harrison may have left the current Best Restaurant in the UK but hasn’t gone far or cut his ties with chef-patron Gareth Ward. Instead, earlier this year he opened Gwen restaurant and wine bar in the centre of Machynlleth where he oversees a restaurant of just eight covers, serving a 10-course menu. 

Abby Lee


Timing is everything in this industry, as Abby Lee discovered the hard way when she launched her Malaysian bowl food restaurant in Shoreditch mere weeks before the pandemic killed it off. A semi-permanent restaurant in Peckham's Market Stalls followed serving a more complete Malaysian offer but next month she is relocating to Clapton to open a permanent Mambow. Lee's modern Malaysian cooking is punchy and impactful with regularly changing dishes that demonstrate her contemporary cooking style. The new Clapton restaurant will have an open kitchen, allowing her the freedom to serve a wider menu of dishes inspired by her family recipes. Something to look forward to.

Ben Allen, The Parakeet


Former Brat chef Ben Allen has helped create significant buzz around The Parakeet, the pub restaurant he runs alongside another Brat alumnus Ed Jennings. Allen, who has also worked at Steirereck in Austria, has won instant praise for his fire-led cooking at The Parakeet, which has been described by the Evening Standard​ as ‘one of London’s great gastropubs’.

Adejoké Bakare, Chishuru

Image: Amit Lennon

Adejoké Bakare’s award-winning West African restaurant Chishuru made waves in its Brixton Market location thanks to her inventive, authentic and experimental West African cooking. Now it’s just reopened in a more central location in Fitzrovia where she will pick up from where she left off and bring her contemporary cooking to a wider audience.

Billy Stock


Former St John and The Marksman chef Billy Stock has made a name for himself in Kent cooking at The Rose Inn in Wickhambreaux, which made it on to the Estrella Damm’s Top 50 Gastropubs list under his tenure. More recently he joined Natalia Ribbe’s Margate restaurant Sète as its head chef and has instantly impressed with his menu that celebrates retro French cooking ‘reinventing old classics with a modern European twist.

Sarah Hayward, The Coach


Named the Michelin Guide’s Young Chef earlier this year, Sarah Hayward has flourished under the watchful eye of a certain Tom Kerridge over the past few years. Starting at The Hand & Flowers and then moving over to The Coach as junior sous chef she held the role of head chef at The Bull & Bear at Manchester’s Stock Exchange hotel before returning to Marlow to head up the kitchen at The Coach.

Larry Jayasekara, The Cocochine


The former National Chef of the Year winner will finally launch his debut restaurant in London next month having announced his intentions a while back. Sri Lanka-born Larry Jayasekara has a strong pedigree having worked at the three Michelin-starred Waterside Inn as chef de partie; at Michel Bras in Route de Laguiole; and at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons before joining Gordon Ramsay’s Pétrus as senior sous chef. His new restaurant The Cocochine, launched in partnership with art dealer Tim Jefferies, will open on Bruton Place in Mayfair and will champion ‘old school hospitality’.

Darcie Maher

Image: James Porteous

Edinburgh-born Darcie Maher recently launched Lannan bakery in the Stockbridge area of the city, building on the success of her laminated pastry cases for which she became known on Instagram. Cue people lining up round the block to sample the delights, that include croissant tarts, a spelt, almond and coriander seed cake with burnt honey cream, and a nduja, fermented honey and murcia al vino bun. Maher’s creations may look stunning but they are not just for ‘the gram’ and have marked her out as a hugely talented pastry chef.

Max Coen, Dorian


Time spent in the kitchens at top London restaurants Ikoyi and Kitchen Table as well as with Frantzén Group has moulded Max Coen into one of the UK’s most promising young chefs. Now at the helm of Dorian in Notting Hill, he has helped spearhead the area’s culinary revival with the ‘bistro for locals’ that ticks all the boxes and which is currently delighting Londoners.

Amber Francis, Maene

Image: Rebecca Dickson

Bristol-born chef Amber Francis made her debut on this year’s Great British Menu, putting her training at The Ritz and her role as head chef at Zebra Riding Club at Birch in Hertfordshire at to good use. Now she’s heading up the kitchen at Nick Gilkinson’s new restaurant Maene in Shoreditch where she oversees a menu of British dishes with Mediterranean influences.

Aaron Dalton, Four


Aaron Dalton's impressive CV includes head chef at London’s Smoking Goat as well as time cooking at Simon Rogan’s Fera, Chez Bruce and Dabbous. He was poised to launch a restaurant with his wife Sally ahead of the pandemic but she later died of cancer, leaving him to care for his two children on his own. Dalton isn’t hanging his whites up though, and is instead opening Four - a restaurant in his home in an extension he has built himself to enable him to look after his children while he continues his passion for cooking.

Cynthia Shanmugalingam, Rambutan


Cynthia Shanmugalingam’s Borough Market restaurant got off to a flier when it opened in the spring, with the Sri Lankan restaurant proving a smash with diners from the off. With Rambutan, Shanmugalingam is throwing the spotlight on an area of Sri Lankan cuisine previously unexplored in central London and is racking up the plaudits.

Spencer Metzger


Earlier this year Spencer Metzger announced that he was moving on from The Ritz after 13 years at the London hotel restaurant where he rose through the ranks to eventually become head chef. Metzger is hardly an unknown quantity in the restaurant industry - in 2019 he won the Roux Scholarship and he was also named Chef to Watch in the 2022 National Restaurant Awards, but this new adventure for the chef has further heightened the excitement about him. There are rumours that he is joining a very high-profile English chef for his new venture, but nothing so far has been confirmed. Watch this space.

Georgia Sommerin, Home by James Sommerin


The senior sous chef at her father’s Michelin-starred Penarth restaurant has been working in a professional kitchen since the age of 13 and full time since 2016 so she already has a head start on many of her peers. This early training helped her become the youngest competitor to appear on the Great British Menu at just 20 years old and will no doubt make her one a chef to watch for the future.

Jackson Heron, Kinsbrook


Having worked with Matt Gillan at Heritage as his right hand man, Jackson Heron recently took the reins of his own kitchen and is now head chef at West Sussex vineyard Kinsbrook’s onsite restaurant. Heron, who has also worked at Michael Bremner’s flagship Brighton restaurant 64 Degrees, has impressed in the short time he has been at Kinsbrook and looks to be a star in the making.

James Murray, Timberyard


Murray had the somewhat daunting task of taking over from Ben Radford at the family-run Timberyard restaurant in Edinburgh, which the Radfords have run for 11 years. His strong cooking background that includes time at Lyle’s, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, and Nur in Hong Kong, have put him in good stead with Murray finally bagging the restaurant a long-awaited - and much deserved - Michelin star.

Prince Durairaj


Former Roti King chef Prince Durairaj has taken Islington by storm at The Tamil Prince, a venue that combines the classic British pub with the food of Tamil Nadu. Now just over a year old, The Tamil Prince has gained a loyal following and numerous plaudits for Durairaj’s cooking that shows that refined yet traditional Indian food doesn’t necessarily have to be served in hushed fine dining rooms.

Slutty Cheff


Instagram’s @sluttycheff became an overnight sensation when she commented on a post from chef Thomas Straker, who shared a photo of his all male, all white kitchen team pointing out the lack of diversity. Unlike other commentators on the social media platform, her tongue-in-cheek tone, warts and all posts and open and frank descriptions of life as a chef - ‘living in the grot’ - struck a chord with people tired of Insta’s often air brushed output. More recently she has shared her views on the regressive fetishisation of ‘chef daddies’ in an article for British Vogue​ and called for the need for more women to have a voice in the industry. As the antidote for much of social media’s sanitised approach to restaurants and food, Slutty Cheff’s voice is one that should continue to be heard.

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