Great British Menu 2019 chefs - Ben Marks, London and South East heat

The Staff Canteen

Ahead of tonight’s screening of Great British Menu, The Staff Canteen is introducing the competition’s first wave of contestants

First up is 27 year-old Ben Marks, chef owner of Newington Green’s Perilla, a modern European restaurant drawing inspiration from Mediterranean favourites.

The chef left his north-east London home at fifteen to go and cook at Operakällaren in Stockholm, came back to study at the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts and then went back to the Nordics to work at Copenhagen’s Noma.

He began hosting pop-ups with his former school friend Matt Emmerson, first at Platform 1 in East Dulwich, then at Palm 2 in Clapton two in 2015, before launching Perilla two years ago with support from Claridge’s Martyn Nail and former GM Thomas Kochs and Elystan Street’s Phil Howard, whom Ben met when he worked at The Square.

The menu at Perilla offers both à la carte and a set options; the chef’s signature dishes include beef fat cooked fish slathered in curry sauce, and moules marinières soaked in ‘yesterday’s bread.’

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Yesterday's bread soaked in moules marinere

A post shared by Ben Marks (@ben_marks_perilla) on

Like many restaurateurs of their generation, sustainability is important to Ben and partner Matt; recycling, attention to provenance and food waste management are core to how they run their business.

They try to ensure good working conditions for their staff, namely by letting them choose how many shifts they work a week.

Furthermore, they try to keep prices down by serving high-quality, low-cost ingredients, such as brisket instead of fillet. 

A short bus ride from any of the capital city’s tube stations, the chef calls his restaurant an ‘Oasis’ outside of London’s habitual hustle and bustle.

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 20th March 2019

Great British Menu 2019 chefs - Ben Marks, London and South East heat