Former FutureChef winner, 18-year-old Luke Thomas, is to head up his own restaurant at Sanctum on the Green in Berkshire.
The young chef, who won Springboard's FutureChef award in 2009, will launch Luke's Dining Room on 7 March.
Housed at Mark Fuller's nine-bedroom hotel in Cookham Dean, near Marlow, the 45-seat restaurant will be open for dinner from Tuesday to Saturday as well as for lunch on Sunday. It will also serve breakfast seven days a week.
Typical dishes will include cauliflower velouté with pork scratchings and golden raisins; ham hock with black pudding and piccalilli; wild sea bass with skin crackling, smoked butter sauce and leeks; pork chop with bonbons, creamed Savoy cabbage and cracked mustard; rice pudding with coconut and caramelised banana; and whipped chocolate with coco nib brittle, pistachio and apricot.
Having been committed to cooking since the age of 12, Thomas has done stages at UK establishments including the Chester Grosvenor hotel; Soughton Hall & Stables Bar & Restaurant; Steve Vaughan Butchers; and the Individual Restaurant Company as well as work placements at Michelin-starred restaurants including the Fat Duck and Rhodes W1.
He has also worked at overseas restaurants including the three-Michelin-starred Alinea in Chicago and La Pergola in Rome as well as the French Laundry pop-up at Harrods.
Commenting on Thomas’s appointment, Fuller said: “Before I met Luke I was totally dismissive of what an 18-year-old could do in the kitchen but he absolutely blew me away. His talent, enthusiasm and dedication remind me of a young Marco Pierre White all those years ago.”
Thomas added: “Cooking is not just a passion, it is my life, and I am fully committed to the hard work and long hours in the months and years to come. I know I still have a lot to learn, but this job is both a challenge and a wonderful gift.”
By Kerstin Kühn
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Published by: The Caterer