Last year’s MasterChef Live exhibition may have been jam-packed with famous names from the world of food, but the chef receiving by far the most attention was 28-year-old Steve Groves, MasterChef: The Professionals winner and junior sous chef at Kensington’s Launceston Place restaurant. Fans lined up outside the restaurant’s booth to shake his hand, grab a photo and congratulate him on some of his inspired creations from the series, which included quail served with Scotch egg and a dessert based on a broken bag of sweets.
FL: The show finished filming in May. How long have you been working at Launceston Place?
SG: I’ve actually worked here for 16 months, since before the show.
FL: How did you end up there?
SG: I’d worked at Branksome Beach Restaurant in Poole for a couple of years, and decided I wanted to do more with my career. So I took a massive pay cut and went from being a head chef to being chef de partis at Launceston Place. I was using the same supplier as Tristan Welch the head chef there and they told me he had just opened a restaurant, having previously worked with Gordon Ramsey at two Michelin-starred Pétrus, so I came up, met him, did a day in the kitchen, and we went from there. He really inspired me and encouraged my creativity and that stood me in good stead for the competition.
FL: Working in a kitchen is pretty intense, so how did you find time to take part in the competition?
SG: The first few rounds I was just doing on my days off work, doing 17 hours days at Launceston Place and then filming MasterChef in between. When it got to the final I took a week off to properly focus on that.
FL: So what is the plan now you’ve won the show?
SG: I plan to stay on at Launceston Place and continue learning from Tristan. After that, well I still haven’t worked in a Michelin-starred restaurant yet and that’s definitely something I want to do.
FL: You were very innovative on the show – how much of that creativity can you express working as a junior chef in someone else’s kitchen?
SG: In the kitchen at Launceston Place, one of the chefs will come in with an idea and we all bounce off of each-other so I get creative input that way. A dish will be tried out four or five times before it gets on to the menu. Tristan will obviously rein me in if I get too out there though. I did ask Tristan if we could put my bag of sweets dessert on the menu but I think the pastry chef would probably kill us because it’s a bit too much for a lot of people.
FL: What are your long term plans for the future?
SG: My ultimate goal is to have my own restaurant, serving the best of British food. I always said by the time I’m 35 I would and I’m 28 now so I’ve got time. For now, I know there is so much to learn before I’m ready to do that.
Check out more info on Launceston Place in Kensington.
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