WHILE ONCE THE restaurant kitchen seemed like an impenetrable place, this generation of hospitality professionals has flung the doors open to the public, with open kitchens ever more popular and social media making diners feel ever-closer to the chefs whose food they love eating.
Another way that diners are connecting with the people who make their food is through competitions – none more so than the Young Chef of the Year competition, run by M Restaurants in partnership with Bookatable by Michelin and in association with Champagne Pommery, Foodism and Square Mile.
The premise is simple: young chefs from London and all over the UK have nominated themselves for the competition, and after impressing M Group's executive chef Michael Reid and guest judges in two intensive competition rounds, have now been invited to M Victoria Street to cook in a series of pop up takeover nights from 3-28 July.
For £45, you can book a four-course menu from any of the chefs, and be a part of the judging process itself
Throughout the month diners and judges will vote for their favourite young chef and the winners will be announced on 31 July at an awards ceremony. Battling it out for the top spot are representatives from the likes of Hide, Pollen Street Social, Coal Shed, The Curlew, plus many more. The initiative aims to foreground unsung heroes of kitchens – young, talented chefs who aren't necessarily heading up their kitchens, but are doing great work and have plenty to give in terms of creativity and originality.
M's founder Martin Williams describes it as a way to "nurture the best young talent already in our kitchens, and to inspire others to get into the professional kitchen and try it out for themselves." The winner and runner-up will get to cook at M Restaurants' RAW Bar, in its Victoria Street restaurant.
The best news? You get to have your say, too: for £45, you can book a four-course menu from any of the chefs, and be a part of the judging process itself. Your scores, along with those of a panel of judges including Adam Handling, Andy Lynes, Claudio Cardoso, Sophie Michell, Daniel Watkins, Jose Pizarro, Michael Wignall, Steve Dinneen, Sudi Pigott and Tom Kemble.