As London becomes infiltrated with top restaurants, more and more talented chefs and restaurateurs are looking further afield and coming to Essex. Someone who has done just that is rising star, Ben Murphy.
Evening Standard London Restaurant Award Winner, The Woodford
In just ten weeks he has already received huge acclaim at The Woodford gaining them London Evening Standard restaurant of the year… Next stop Michelin Star.
The Woodford is already achieving great things winning Evening Standard London Restaurant Awards. What is the secret to your success?
The team at The Woodford is committed to giving 100 per cent. We want the best for each other and the best for customers that come and dine at the restaurant.
Who is your role model?
I’ve had guidance from Pierre Koffmann, who has pointed me in the right direction. We still speak regularly and we have such a good connection – I could easily class him as family.
What is your greatest achievement to date?
Opening a restaurant at the age of 25 and being recognised within 10 weeks for doing something really special.
What future challenges does the restaurant business face?
The Woodford isn’t situated in central London and we see it more as a destination restaurant, so there is always going to be more pressure to get diners to travel that bit further. One of our biggest advantages, however, is that we don’t have as much competition surrounding us and hopefully what we do stands out in the area. Social media is one of the biggest developments in the restaurant business. The beauty is that everyone loves to share pictures and experiences of their food, but a downfall is that there is no getting away from a bad review. It just makes you work that bit harder to prevent it happening.
What do you think the biggest misconceptions are about being a chef?
That we are all hot headed and most chefs have egos. I would like to think I am quite calm, particularly for my age.
Why has it taken so long for Essex to gain restaurants of this calibre?
Most Michelin restaurants are based in the centre of London and the competition is so enclosed. I feel that there are more foodies outside and on the border of London, which is great for us as we are educating the locals to try something new.
Aside from The Woodford, where else do you like to eat on your nights off?
The Ledbury and Clove Club. I regularly try new restaurants, particularly if I’m a fan of the chef. I’ve been so busy at The Woodford so a night off is rare.