M Restaurant crowns Young Chef of the Year

(L-R) Reid with winner Hamish Pearce
02/08/2018 - 10:22
22 year-old chef Hamish Pearce, from Hackney-based restaurant Pidgin, was this week crowned M Restaurants Young Chef of the Year, having showcased his talent during a series of takeover nights at M Victoria Street.

As part of his prize, he will run his own pop-up at the restaurant next week (7-11 August) followed by a five-day residency from Jamie Gardner (the Coal Shed) who took home the Outstanding Menu Award.

Up against 11 other finalists, each had to prepare and serve a four-course meal for 50 covers at £45 per head, during a series of pop-up takeover nights. Guests and judges, including M Group executive chef Mike Reid, then voted for their favourite chef.

‘Suitably impressing’ Reid, Pearce was awarded the title for his menu, which comprised: monkfish ceviche; endive, babaganoush, liver, nettles and coal; venison with fermented green gazpacho and new potato sauce; and dessert of sheep's milk ricotta, nectarine and thyme ice cream.

Reid said: “(The competition) wasn’t easy – the standard of all the contestants was seriously high and I was genuinely blown away by some of the cooking on show over the last month.

“Hamish, however, gave us the whole package we were looking for - an inventive menu, executed superbly with a full house on his pop-up night.

“He certainly gave his diners an experience they will remember – I couldn’t have asked for anything more!”

Bookatable chief executive Michel Cassius added: “We are passionate about helping to discover and grow new talent within the industry.

“This contest has again provided a great platform to showcase the exciting, innovative young chefs taking the UK culinary world by storm.”

Co-run by M Restaurants, Bookatable by Michelin and Champagne Pommery, the annual contest aims to find the “best young talent in kitchens across the UK and encourage others to start a career in the hospitality industry following reported staff shortages post-Brexit.”

M founder Martin Williams concluded: “There are two purposes of the contest - to nurture the best young talent already in our kitchens and secondly, I hope that by seeing what other young people are doing with food, it will inspire others to get into the professional kitchen and try it out for themselves.

“Thanks to Brexit, the hospitality industry is suffering from worrying staff shortages and we want to make becoming a chef an aspirational career to students coming out of schools and colleges.”

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