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Chefs To Watch

José Pizarro

Background: José is originally from Cáceres in Spain but has been in London for 18 years. Although it may seem unlikely, the so-called ‘Godfather of Spanish cooking’ had ambitions to be a dentist when he was young but, luckily for all of us, he chose food over teeth. Since coming to London he has worked at prestigious Spanish restaurants including Eyre Brothers, Brindisa and Gaudi. José opened his own place in 2011 in Bermondsey, simply entitled José Tapas Bar. This was followed by José Tapas nearby and José Pizarro at Broadgate Circle.

Current projects: Having penned three books previously, in 2017 he published Catalonia, a book showing off the food of his region. This year, José has been a strong presence at some of the country’s most well-renowned foodie events including The Big Feastival, Taste of London, Meatopia, Aldeburgh & Padstow and will be at Abergavenny Food Festival this month, too.

Signature style: José has always been a proponent of his native Spain’s tapas cuisine. Quality ingredients in classic configurations are the Spanish chef’s speciality, so visitors to his restaurants can expect tortillas, croquetas and some of the tastiest Jamón Ibérico around.


Adam Handling

Background: In 2013, Adam Handling became a finalist in Masterchef: the Professionals. This may be where you first heard of the chef, but his culinary career began much earlier, when he was 16 and worked as an apprentice at Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland. After a few more stints at various hotels, he became the youngest ever Head Chef at the Fairmont St Andrews. Post-Masterchef, Adam opened his first solo venture entitled Restaurant Adam Handling at Caxton in SW1. This received several accolades, including 'Best newcomer UK restaurant 2015' in the Food and Travel Magazine Awards.

Current projects: Since opening The Frog in Spitalfields in 2016, Adam has gone on to establish Frog by Adam Handling in Covent Garden, followed by moving The Frog to a larger venue in Hoxton Square in 2018 and adding an underground bar called Iron Stag. Adam has also shown a burgeoning interest in sustainability with his zero-waste coffee and beer shop, Bean & Wheat, which also opened this year. Restaurant Property managed the deal that saw his restaurant move from its lease at the Old Truman Brewery to a perfect, permanent site in Hoxton Square.

Signature style: The term ‘British Tapas’ is one that may (deservedly) send a little shiver of apprehension down any food-lover’s spine - luckily, Adam Handling executes it with panache and humour, combining unexpected flavours and textures. The result is always a treat.


Hamish Pearce

Background: The newcomer of the bunch, Hamish Pearce’s career is just beginning. Only 22 years old, he proved his culinary chops at Hide by Ollie Dabbous before moving to Pidgin in Hackney. Pidgin has been revered by critics since it’s opening and changes menu every week. It proclaims proudly that, “in three years [they] have yet to repeat a single dish.”

Current projects: This year, Hamish was awarded M Restaurants’ Young Chef of the Year 2018. The competition was judged by the first two entries on our list, Adam Handling and José Pizarro, as well as Sophie Michell, M’s executive chef Michael Reid and the group’s founder Martin Williams. His prize? A five-day pop-up residency at M Victoria Street, a trip to Champagne Pommery in Reims and a set of Blenheim Forge knives. Expect to hear more from Hamish very soon.

Signature style: The menu that won him the Young Chef of the Year prize featured monkfish ceviche, kiwi fruit, pickled elderflower and gooseberry, followed by endive, baba ganoush, liver, nettles and coal. With this young chef, expect the unexpected.


Tomos Parry

Background: Tomos Parry is a Welsh chef who was crowned Young British Foodie Chef of the Year 2014. He became head chef at Kitty Fisher’s when it opened in 2015 and the restaurant was an instant success, attracting a laundry list of celebrities including Brad Pitt, Bradley Cooper and David Cameron. Tomos himself has described the venture as “a bit of a fairytale” and, despite its success, after two years the young chef decided it was time to move on.

Current projects: His new venture is BRAT, located in the Tea Building in Shoreditch, which has received rave reviews since opening earlier this year. The fare is simple and focuses on using fire to cook, which Tomos thinks is essential to really authentic food. “Cooking over fire is a simple way of cooking. It’s instinctive. It taps into something primal in your brain. You have to be intuitive, and tapped into what you’re doing,” he says. “The meat’s never the same, the fire’s not the same. That’s where the fun and joy comes into it.” His latest accomplishment is a Michelin Star awarded to him in the 2019 Michelin Guide for the Great Britain and Ireland.   

Signature style: Tomos places great emphasis on his ingredients; British turbot, cheese made from Jersey cream and carefully selected Welsh and Cornish suppliers. His menu at BRAT is no-frills and distinctly British.


Clare Smyth

Background: Clare’s name is one that many food fans will be familiar with. She grew up in Northern Ireland and moved to England aged 16 where she attended culinary college. Her first full-time post was at the Terence Conran-owned Michelin House and then in 2007 she was made head chef at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. This made Clare the UK’s first female chef to run a restaurant with three Michelin stars. Her career since then has been a laundry list of triumphs including an MBE and being honoured the Chef Award in 2016.

Current projects: In 2017, Clare struck out on her own and opened Core, the site of which was acquired for her by Restaurant Property. Located on Kensington Park Road, the restaurant has been an instant hit. It was named Best Restaurant at the GQ Food and Drink Awards in April 2018, while Clare herself was named the World's Best Female Chef 2018 by the World's 50 Best Restaurants. The trailblazing chef continues to break boundaries and represents the slow erosion of the ‘boy’s club’ that has dominated the upper echelons of the restaurant scene for so long, with her restaurant being awarded two Michelin Stars in the 2019 Michelin Guide for Great Britain and Ireland.

Signature style: Clare’s food is hearty and has been described as ‘British food served surprisingly’. This sums up the chef’s out of the box approach which is always teamed with the very best ingredients.

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