Here at SquareMeal, we’re all about shining a light on the best talent in the industry. And while the big names tend to get a lot of the spotlight, there are so many under-the-radar chefs that are just as worthy of a shoutout, if you ask us. Now, we’re not saying there isn’t a time and a place for your Michel Roux Jrs and Gordon Ramsays, but when there’s so much yet-to-be-realised talent making waves across the industry, we consider it our duty to put them on a pedestal.
What makes a chef ‘one to watch’ you ask? We’ve considered a mixture of things when curating this all-star line-up. Yes, you’ll find a couple of youngsters in here who are doing, quite frankly, unbelievable things for the few years they’ve been working in professional kitchens. But that’s not to say everyone in this list is below the age of 25. We’re championing the chefs that have worked tirelessly, day in and day out, to reach where they are today. Whether they’ve recently opened their first restaurant, are managing a prestigious kitchen team or have made it onto the British public’s television screens by way of MasterChef or Great British Menu, everyone in this list has a stellar CV to be proud of.
Whether they’re blowing up right now or are likely to become headline news over the next few years, these are the best and brightest chefs to have on your radar right now. If there is anyone missing from the list who you think is worthy of a special mention, you can always reach out to us on social media to let us know. We’re always keen to hear about new and rising stars in the industry. Simply pop us a message on Instagram or Twitter – we’d love to chat to you!
Who is she? Five years ago, Nokx Majozi started working alongside former executive chef Calum Franklin at Holborn Dining Room’s iconic pie room. It marked a huge shift in her career, from professional kitchen to pie-making, and one that she's never looked back from. Last year, following Calum’s departure from the restaurant, Nokx took over the reins entirely and now spends her days rustling up the restaurant’s popular beef Wellington amongst other pastry-clad delights, all within the dramatic surrounds of the Pie Room (its distinctive décor means it's often used for filming). Going back a bit further, Nokx came over to the UK in 2002 from South Africa, after which she held various positions at The Intercontinental Park Lane, The Landmark and Brown’s. Her big break came in 2014 when she landed a job at the Rosewood London. After a few years in the kitchen, she was invited to make pithiviers one day in the Pie Room and, well, you know the rest.
Current role: Head pie-maker at Holborn Dining Room
Who is he? Northampton-born chef Drew Snaith kick-started his career with a two-year stint at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons when he was just 16 - so, not a bad way to get your foot in the door. Upon moving to London, he worked at Brunswick House as sous chef before taking up his first head chef role at The Conduit where he focused on sustainability and eliminating single-use plastics. In November 2021, and at the tender age of 28 might we add, he bagged himself a head chef position at Hackney restaurant Pidgin, where he creates a weekly-changing tasting menu which champions the best of British seasonal produce from small UK suppliers.
Current role: Head chef at Pidgin
Who is she? Born and raised in Mexico, Adriana Cavita’s food is a reflection of her love for the heritage of her home country. She landed her first job at the age of 17 working as an apprentice at Nicos in Mexico City, followed not long after by a full-time role at Pujol, both of which happen to be award-winning restaurants. She would later go on to work at the now-closed three Michelin-starred El Bulli in Spain. It’s a CV for the ages and, clearly, this chef has skill. It was Adriana’s travels across Mexico, though, that developed her understanding of the country’s cuisine and now informs her approach to her first and (so far) only restaurant Cavita. Opening in 2022 to widespread praise, her aim is to celebrate and honour Mexican food and culture through truly authentic dishes.
Current role: Head chef and founder of Cavita
Who is he? 26-year-old Marcus Clayton is the most recent competitor to reach the final of the S. Pellegrino Young Chef Academy competition 2022-23. Impressing high-profile judges Claude Bosi at Bibendum, Lisa Goodwin-Allen of Northcote, and Sally Abe of The Pem, Marcus won them over with his signature dish of celeriac, apple and mushroom. Next on the horizon for the talented young chef is preparing to compete in the grand finals in Milan, which takes place this year. When he's not busy impressing top chefs with his fantastic food, Marcus is the junior sous chef at Michelin-starred The Hide and Fox in Hythe, Kent. Although we reckon he has his eye planted on a head chef role one day soon...
Current role: Junior sous chef at The Hide and Fox
Who is she? Georgia Sommerin was the youngest ever chef to compete on Great British Menu when she made her debut appearance on the popular show at the age of 20 in 2020. She’s also senior sous chef at her father’s Michelin-starred restaurant Home by James Sommerin in Penarth. She stared working in the kitchen as a Saturday job at the age of 13, just to earn a bit of pocket money, but quickly fell in love with the whole scene. Deciding that professional kitchens are exactly where she wants to be, Georgia started working full time at Home when she left school at the age of 16, and has since worked her way up to senior sous chef. Now, having just competed for the second time on Great British Menu 2023, we can’t wait to see what she’s going to do next.
Current role: Senior sous chef at Home by James Sommerin
Who is he? North Wales born Nick Rudge has just opened his debut restaurant, The Jackdaw, following a seven-year career at The Fat Duck. He started at the three Michelin-starred restaurant fresh out of college, where he completed a one-month stage placement before acquiring his first proper role as commis chef. At the time, Nick was the youngest member of staff the restaurant had ever employed, and he managed to climb the ranks over the years to junior sous chef. Covid was the beginning of a new leaf for Nick, when everyone was placed on furlough and he saw an opportunity to set up his own venture in his hometown: The Jackdaw at Home. It was a hit, and he’s since made the decision to open his first bricks-and-mortar site in Conwy, which incidentally placed number 16 in our UK Top 100 Restaurants.
Current role: Proprietor and chef of The Jackdaw
Who is she? Amber Francis has had the career of a lifetime in just 27 short years. A leap of faith saw her swap a university degree for a Culinary Arts Specialist Chef Scholarship at the Royal Academy. With that, she apprenticed at The Ritz, and partook in work experience at The French Laundry and River Cottage. Her love for seasonal produce and working with local growers spurred the trajectory of her career following that, where she ended up taking roles at many of Robin Gill's restaurants including The Dairy, Bermondsey Larder and Darby’s. Following a year as senior sous chef at Brawn, Amber went on to attain the position of head chef at Zebra Riding Club and has most recently competed on season 18 of Great British Menu. Although she’s recently announced her departure from ZRC, her next role sees the bright young chef head up the kitchen at new restaurant Maene in Spitalfields. Phew!
Current role: Head chef at Maene
Who is he? Dominic Roarty cut his teeth at The Three Chimneys on Skye, one of Scotland’s most famous restaurants with rooms and an iconic foodie destination. Following his stint as an islander, Dominic moved to Glasgow and now works under the tutelage of Dean Parker who runs Celentano’s in the east end. Here Dominic supports Dean in presenting his menu of Italian influenced dishes and has become an essential part of the fabric of the team. Speaking about his protégée, Dean says: 'Dom started at Celentano’s after working at The Three Chimneys in Skye. He has been an amazing addition to the team, starting as junior sous and soon being promoted to sous chef. Not only is he a great chef, but he is organised, reliable and most importantly brings a sense of calm to the kitchen which is a great influence on the rest of the team.'
Current role: Sous chef at Celentano's
Who is she? Charlotte Vincent’s journey into food is an unlikely one. She actually spent nine years in the army before going to train with Michael Caines at Gidleigh Park in Devon. After spending many years as his pastry chef at Royal Clarence in Exeter, Charlotte made the decision to quit cheffing to study to be a scientist. She earned herself two degrees and a job at a drugs company in that time, but her love for cooking was still calling her name. After five years, she made another U-turn, quit her job and found a role working as a chef at The Five Bells in Clyst Hydon in 2019. Since then, she hasn’t looked back, although still uses many of the skills she learned from science (namely experimenting) in her dishes now. Although The Five Bells sadly had to close in 2022 due to financial issues, she’s since gone on to lead the team at Hotel Meudon, and now occupies the role of head chef at Colson’s Bar & Grill at Hotel Indigo in Exeter.
Current role: Head chef at Colson’s Bar & Grill
Who is he? Kerth Gumbs is likely to already be on your radar, perhaps from seeing him on TV as a judge on the new series of Young MasterChef, or competing on Great British Menu back in 2020. These are all relatively new revelations for the chef though, who’s been working hard behind the scenes to make star TV appearances like these happen. Kerth grew up on a tiny island in the Caribbean where he first learned to cook by watching his mother. Although he originally wanted to be a professional athlete, food was always close to his heart, and he moved to the UK to study at Le Cordon Bleu, graduating in 2004. Following a two-year stint at Quaglino’s Brasserie, Kerth quickly gained priceless training at some of the top kitchens in the country: Tom Aikens' flagship restaurant, L’Atelier and Texture. He also spent time at Jason Atherton’s Esquina in Singapore, and more recently occupied the role of head chef at Ormer in Mayfair. Now, Kerth is busy managing the kitchen team at Fenchurch Restaurant at Sky Garden where he drawns on his classical French training to curate its modern British fine dining menus.
Current role: Head chef at Fenchurch Restaurant
Who is he? Essex-born Alex Webb came to prominence when he won MasterChef: The Professionals back in 2020. Before that, he developed his skills at top London restaurants, including Hélène Darroze at The Connaught, Dinner by Heston, Roux at Parliament Square and The Frog by Adam Handling. So, bascially, the best in the business. In May 2022, Webb began a pop-up residency at Number One Park Lane.
Who is she? Half Scottish, half Malaysian, Julie Lin is one of Glasgow’s greatest chefs, and now we’re shining a light on her extraordinary talent to ensure she’s on the radar of the masses. Things really kicked off for the chef back in 2014 when she competed on MasterChef, an experience she describes as 'crazy, emotional, exhilarating and intense all at once' in our recent interview with Julie Lin. Making it to the quarter finals, she then spent time under the tutelage of Laurie McMillan at Café Strange Brew, before going on to head up the team at now-closed Babu Kitchen. She’s now the chef-patron of GaGa in Glasgow where she champions Malaysian street food amongst other South East Asian dishes. Julie's CV extends to pop-ups at London's Carousel and TV presenting too, just to keep her busy.
Current role: Chef patron of GaGa
Who is he? Johnnie Crowe‘s name has cropped up a lot in the last year or so, not least because he’s the co-founder of one of 2022’s most exciting and highly-praised openings. Johnnie, alongside old friends Luke Wasserman and Toby Neill, launched Restaurant St Barts in London last year, which if you don't know is a brilliant new restaurant over in Smithfields serving seasonal dishes from produce sourced across the British Isles. It also ranked number 13 in our Top 100 Restaurants in London, dazzling us on the very first visit. Johnnie is actually the executive chef at both St Barts and NEST in Hackney, another awesome restaurant from the same trio. Previously, he worked as a chef at Michelin-starred The Harwood Arms and acclaimed Angler, where he developed his passion for sustainability and British produce.
Current role: Executive chef and co-founder of Restaurant St Barts and NEST
Who is he? If you’ve eaten at Mount St. Restaurant in Mayfair recently, you’ll know that Jamie Shears' food is something quite special. The restaurant opened to wide acclaim last year, not least due to Jamie’s quite frankly sensational cooking. In fact, he heads up the entire food operation at Artfarm’s The Audley on Mount Street, which includes a more casual pub down stairs and the fine dining first-floor restaurant upstairs. Prior to that, he was executive chef at London's 45 Park Lane Hotel, and before that head chef at Fortnum & Mason’s 45 Jermyn Street. He’s also worked alongside some of the UK’s top chefs, including Gordon Ramsay and Chris Galvin. Starting as a chef in the British Army at age 16, a stint he describes as providing him with the skills needed to survive in a professional kitchen, there’s no doubting Shears' talent.
Current role: Executive chef at The Audley and Mount St. Restaurant
Who is she? Kim Ratcharoen’s passion for food stems from her childhood spent cooking with her grandmother in Thailand. The realisation that cooking was something she wanted to pursue crystalised when she moved to London, where she balanced working in a Thai restaurant in Brighton with studying for a Hospitality degree at College (which she achieved with distinction, by the way). Knowing she wanted to delve deeper into the world of fine dining, Kim took up a position at 64 Degrees in Brighton, a fine start, before applying for an apprentice position at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. She’s worked there for six years now, climbing the ranks from senior sous chef to head chef. Go check her out if you haven’t already.
Current role: Head chef at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay
Who is he? Head chef at The Ritz: now that’s a title for the ages. You don’t land a position like that without having a fair amount of talent and skill, which Spencer Metzger certainly isn’t short of. He began his career at The Ritz at the tender age of 15, working his way up through the ranks to eventually acquire his head honcho role. Various stints at three Michelin-starred L’Enclume and Frantzen in Stockholm helped bolster the skills he needed to run the famous hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant. He also won the highly prestigious Roux Scholarship in 2019, amongst other accolades. Is there no stopping him?
Current role: Head chef at The Ritz
Who is he? Anthony Billon was first introduced to the British public via MasterChef: The Professionals when he competed on the series in 2021, although his career began long before this. He started his journey as an apprentice at Gauthier in Soho before moving to France for a few years to refine his skills. A four-year stint at Sketch saw Anthony refine his trade even further, before securing a role as head chef at Michelin-starred The Goring Dining Room at just 30 years old. He might not be a household name yet, but we’re expecting more great things from the young chef.
Current role: Head chef at The Goring Dining Room
For more top-quality food by some of the UK's leading chefs, take a look at our guide to every three Michelin-starred restaurant in the UK.