|Steven Edwards famously won the 6th series of MasterChef: The Professionals in 2013 becoming one of the youngest ever winners of the competition at the age of 26. Ever since then he is establishing himself as one of Britain’s most promising and talented chefs, with Michelin starred chef Michel Roux Jnr. describing his work as ‘food that is great to eat, expertly cooked, presented with a certain elegance, clean lines, and it works - fault-free!’.
Having trained with some of the UK’s leading chefs, including Raymond Blanc, he set up his first permanent location in 2016 when he opened ‘etch’, a British tasting menu only restaurant in Brighton and Hove, East Sussex. Celebrating local and British produce, its weekly changing tasting menu, dishes are created using two main ingredients. Etch currently holds a Michelin Plate, 5 Good Food Guide listings and 3 AA Rosettes. Such is etch’s popularity, in 2021 it expanded into the neighbouring building to increase its size and covers. [The Luxury Travel Bible has no doubt that etch’s next award will be a Michelin Star - Ed]
In 2020 Steven opened his second restaurant, Steven Edwards @ The Bingham Riverhouse. Located in London over looking the Thames, the a la carte menu is described as being ‘nostalgic, fun & have a real purity of flavour’.
With so much happening and awards being won, TLTB recently chatted with Steven about both restaurants, what winning Masterchef: The Professionals meant to him and what he is planning on sneaking onto his desert island.
Tell us more about etch. & Steven Edwards @ The Bingham Riverhouse - what can guests expect?
I have two very different restaurants but both celebrate British ingredients and my style of modern British cooking. Etch is my baby down in Brighton & Hove where you can expect a choice of 5, 7 or 9 course weekly changing tasting menus. The Bingham Riverhouse is a cross between an à la carte and tasting menu where guests can choose a starter, main and dessert but can also add a few signatures in between like my dippy egg and soldiers.
etch was your first restaurant - what makes that special?
It’s special because it really is a dream come true. Opening a restaurant isn’t for the faint hearted and I honestly think it’s one of the hardest things I have done. It makes cooking feel easy.
etch is located in Brighton and Hove. Why did you choose this location?
I wanted a restaurant in the city, I live in Horsham so Brighton & Hove seemed like the best place. I love the fact that Brighton & Hove already had a great food scene that was getting bigger and better and am proud to be part of the city's foodie journey.
Apart from dining at etch, what MUST a visitor to Brighton and Hove do?
You’ve got to go on the pier and have fish and chips! There is also lots more to do like visiting the lanes, great coffee shops, bars and pubs and of course coming to etch!
What is your favourite dish on your menu and why? You famously won the 6th series of ‘MasterChef: The Professionals’ in 2013. What did that experience teach you?
At the moment we have cured sea trout served with cockle ice cream, beer battered cockles and cockle ketchup. I love it because its fresh tasting, interesting but using great quality local ingredients.
It taught me to keep pushing and challenging myself. It also helped me discover who I am as a chef and refined my style.
What is the best piece of ‘Culinary advice’ that you have ever received?What do you consider to be essential to create a special dining experience?
To taste, taste and taste. I’ve always loved eating and tasting everything is the way to get better and understand food. It sounds obvious but so many people and chefs don’t taste what they serve.
I think there are 3 parts;
1) The environment needs to have a wow factor
2) Service needs to be warm and friendly
3) The food needs to be different, exciting and tasty!
For me luxury ingredients are rare products that you don’t see or eat every day.
What was your most memorable meal ever? Food creates memories. Is there a dish that instantly evokes a favourite travel experience or destination?
For me it was lunch at Le Manior by Raymond Blanc in Oxford. I came away being blown away so much that I handed my notice in the following day to work at a higher level.
I love Cyprus and stuffed vine leaves evokes memories of going there for sure. I actually had one of my favourite meals there as well. Nothing crazy but authentic Greek food that I loved.
When travelling, is there a 'comfort food' dish which reminds you of home?
It sounds bad but having a burger is comfort food for me, simple, tasty and a bit naughty!
Which item(s) of food/ingredients sum up luxury for you?
For me luxury ingredients are rare products that you don’t see or eat every day. Caviar jumps to mind straight away, we use Royal Baerii caviar in the restaurant but the best I have tasted is from Petrossian it works well with a lot of dishes and definitely elevates them.
Which three foods/ingredients would you take to a desert island (and why)?
Salt, oil and rice. Just basics to allow me to cook what I can catch to survive but at least make it taste better … Although after that last question, I’m thinking of sneaking in some caviar too!
Sarah Bryans 01/08/2022