ben murphy

Meet the chef: Ben Murphy of Launceston Place

10 Jul 2024 | |By Annie Lewis

Dubbed one of the biggest rising stars on the UK’s culinary scene, Ben Murphy talks career mentors, turkey dinosaurs and dismantling the kitchen hierarchy

Ben Murphy is a simple man. When he was young, he wanted to be a footballer like every other boy in the world, and when I ask him how he would spend a day off from the kitchen, he simply says with friends and family. It doesn’t take glitz and glamour to make Murphy happy – and it’s perhaps this contentedness with simplicity that makes him one of the best chefs in the country. 

That isn’t to say, though, that Murphy doesn’t think outside the box. After all, he’s chef patron at South Kensington’s fine-dining hotspot Launceston Place and was crowned National Chef of the Year by the Craft Guild of Chefs in 2022 – and neither of those accolades come without a dollop of creativity. But, put simply, Murphy doesn’t mess about. 

Having graduated from Westminster Kingsway College, Murphy got his big break when he started working at Koffmann’s at The Berkeley, under the guidance of French chef Pierre Koffmann, who remains his mentor to this day. From there, he moved to France – an experience which he calls ‘life changing’ – and nurtured his fine-dining nous at three Michelin-starred Les Prés d’Eugénie in the south of France and the three-star Épicure Restaurant at Le Bristol in Paris. This modern European-style cooking sparked interest at Launceston Place, and Murphy has now helmed the kitchen for the past seven years, bringing his flair for French cuisine and exciting approach to the plate. 

Inside the sleek but unassuming townhouse, pick from an array of thoughtful but simple dishes such as potato puff with 30-month aged comte, duck with purple beetroot and radish, upmarket egg and soldiers with artichoke and sourdough, and lavender choux – no fuss or frills is the bill of fare here. It’s this refreshing simplicity that has not only made Murphy one to watch on London’s cheffing scene, but also earned the restaurant three AA Rosettes. So, what’s next for the rising star? We sit down with Murphy to discuss his time in France, how he motivates his kitchen and where he likes to dine in the capital.  

Tell me about your childhood. Did you always want to be a chef?

Never. As a young boy I was obsessed with football, that was the dream. I started cooking when I fell in love with food technology at school at the age of 16, which then led me to complete a three-year diploma course at Westminster Kingsway college.

What’s your earliest food memory?

My mum’s turkey dinosaurs and smiley faces – I was always grateful for having food on the table as a kid.

What was it like working under Pierre Koffmann?

Koffmann has played a huge part in my life, let alone career. We’re family. Everyday was a highlight working at Koffmann’s. I was constantly learning to be a better chef but also a man. He disciplined and taught me hard which has helped me be where I am today.

Tell me about your time in France. What was the biggest lesson you learnt from those Michelin-starred kitchens?

Working in France was life changing. Spending three years at college then learning about French gastronomy and being an English guy in France without knowing a word of French – some people may say stupid, but for me it has had a huge impact on my career. I learnt why the French chefs do certain techniques and flavours combinations.

What drew you to Launceston Place?

I’ve been here for seven and half years now. Time has gone so quickly, but being offered the position originally to take over as head and find my identity, was what drew me here. I had free rein in doing whatever I wanted (within reason) and I feel that’s allowed me to express myself on the plate without anyone above me.

What influences your menus here?

Food I like to eat and ingredients that are within season, trending and modern. We aren’t your typical restaurant that plays it ‘safe’. I’m always looking to push boundaries. The menu board that gets placed in front of you when you dine is inspired by a game I used to play with my grandma. It’s personal as it gives the guest full control over what they want to eat and at the same time it’s a bit of fun.

As chef patron, how do you keep the kitchen motivated?

The team trusts me and I work hard for them. I made it clear from the get-go that no-one is working for me, they are working with me. If the kitchen porter is off, we all get stuck in, including myself. Everyone is treated the same no matter what position you are.

What's your favourite dish on the menu and why?

Celeriac, pecorino and mint has become a real signature. I’ve not had one guest who does not like it and it’s been on the menu since the start. It’s a vegetarian dish, but for sure my favourite.

What is your one other favourite London restaurant and why?

I love The Ledbury, which recently received three Michelin stars, which I feel was way overdue. It’s modern, it’s fresh and it’s inspiring. Brett and his team are great people too.

launceston place
Are there any other London chefs you're impressed with now?

I’ve always been inspired by Alex Dilling, also a good guy, but his food – wow! Work of art, and I’ve been lucky enough to dine there a couple times. The food, service and restaurant as a whole will for sure get the three stars that it deserves.

How would you spend an ideal day out in London?

I’d do my best to sleep past 8am – I do love routine, spending time with my girlfriend and my cat is what helps me switch off from work. I tend to be so engaged with work that it’s a wakeup call when I am off and realising there’s more to life than spending 18-hour days in a kitchen. I take full advantage of eating properly and going for walks and maybe a cheeky Guinness. Friends and family are a huge thing for me, so I’d always do my best to see them.


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