After making his mark at The Woodford, chef Ben Murphy went west to become Head Chef at Launceston Place. Now he’s hit the kitchens of the W London as the latest chef to take part in their Dining Series, for which he’s created a playful seven-course tasting menu. We asked Ben what it’s been like making the jump across town…
Where do you live in London and what do you love about the area?
I was born in Brent Cross, North West London. It’s a special place for me because I attended the local school, St. Mary’s, where the only subject I turned up to was food technology! There I had my first experience with food and learned to make pasta and choux pastry. I wanted to take this further, so between the ages of 16 and 19, I studied the 123 professional chef diploma in Westminster Kingsway College.
How did you become a chef? We hear that you wanted to be a footballer first.
My dream was always to play professionally for Arsenal. At 16 I was training hard locally, and I had trials at Queens Park Rangers. The football career was going well until unfortunately I broke my collarbone and was out of action for a while. I used cooking as a way to focus and food technology was always my favourite subject at secondary school. I loved the practical side of cooking and found it really engaging.[easy-image-collage id=126115]
How’s it been making the jump from The Woodford to Launceston Place, in one of the UK’s most expensive neighbourhoods?
Opening The Woodford was an experience. Making the jump from The Woodford to Launceston Place, I feel I had to prove that I’m not just a one trick pony. I know how to run a restaurant, motivate and engage a team, please customers and potentially achieve something special. I feel privileged to have such a huge responsibility in running one of London’s most prestigious restaurants and i’m grateful for the opportunities it has given me along the way – working with a number of high-profile brands such as W London and Creed Fragrances this year alone.
You’ve bought some fun ideas to Launceston Place, such as the revolving Sunday roast menu and we even spotted some emojis on the menus… how’s that gone down with the locals?
The locals we keep sweet. The emojis are fun and incorporating the Sunday “Roast Menu” is something new with a little twist. Some customers on the other hand don’t take us seriously until they see what we actually do. For me it’s about stripping back this serious fine-dining scene and making it more relaxed and casual. A few surprises through-out the dining experience is always worth the talk, but as long as our customers leave happy and want to return, that’s the most important thing for us.
You are now one of the chefs taking part in the W London hotel Dining Series, can you talk us through why you wanted to be a part of it and the inspiration behind the menu?
I love the way that W Hotels always want to mix things up and ensure that nothing is as it seems. Also, it’s a brand that is passionate about creating playful and surprising experiences for their guests, which is very much what the concept of this menu is all about. I think Soho is such a melting pot when it comes to food, so it was a dream to work together and just let my imagination and creativity run wild. When designing this menu for W London, I wanted to take people on a playful journey and show them that tasting menus don’t have to be formal, long and stuffy. Each course plays on a memory from my childhood, from my favourite go-to dish of a boiled egg and soldiers to my love for cereal to having a choc-ice as a treat. This menu captures all these moments and has been executed with the refined culinary skills I have learnt during my time working in Paris and London with some of the best chefs in the business.
What would be your perfect day in London look like?
My perfect day in London would be a much-needed lie in after a long night’s service followed by a casual lunch and a few drinks with close friends. I love to eat something simple, outside of what I do every day – casual, good tasting food, somewhere like Pizza East in Shoreditch is great with friends.
Ben’s menu at W London is available until end of February 2019
10 Wardour Street, London W1D 6QF