"I got involved with the wrong people, it was a huge learning curve."

Alex South

Alex South


The Staff Canteen spoke to Ben Murphy, Chef Patron of Launceston Place and Winner of the Craft Guild of Chefs' National Chef of the Year competition, about his career, his tips on winning competitions, and his experience becoming one of the country’s most talented young chefs.

Ben began his career by studying culinary arts at Westminster Kingsway College before graduating and taking up a position at the famed Pierre Koffmann at the Berkley Hotel.

"He just came out of retirement, with no expectation of Michelin Stars or anything like that. I actually didn't know who Pierre Koffmann was at the time. I just needed a full-time job from college, so I was quite lucky enough to get a position," explained Ben.

Through working with Pierre, it wasn’t long before Ben’s passion for fine dining really took hold, with his acclaimed mentor driving Ben down to the South of France to meet his family, and his wide range of cheffing contacts including Michel Guérard.

After meeting Michel, Ben took up work at the chef’s three-star restaurant, despite being unable to speak French.

"I went from a three rossette restaurant straight into a three Michelin star restaurant, without knowing any French, which was quite intense but again a good experience," Ben revealed.

Continuing his journey in France, Ben worked at Éric Fréchon’s three Michelin-starred Épicure before returning back to London to work at The Greenhouse restaurant in Mayfair under the leadership of Arnaud Bignon. He then later embarked upon a six-month stage at the three Michelin-starred Eleven Maddison Park.

At the age of 24, Ben returned to the UK to open his debut restaurant The Woodford based in East London before leaving the restaurant after working there for just 10 months.

Discussing his experience launching a restaurant at 24, Ben said: "It didn't last long but we did really well over the 10 months of it being open. I got involved with the wrong people, it was a huge learning curve. I wasn't in the correct position to understand the whole management side of things. The food was one thing but then there was obviously all the behind the scenes stuff, like the invoicing, and accounting, and not having that experience."

After The Woodford, Ben took up a position with Launceston Place as head chef in 2017, before being promoted to chef patron in the same year. 


In October 2023, Ben won the Craft Guild of Chef’s National Chef of the Year competition, representing an incredible achievement for the chef.

Commenting on how he found the competition, Ben said: "Winning that competition was probably the one of the best feelings I've ever had. It was a very emotional evening and something I will definitely always look back on."

Ben’s winning performance, like most chefs taking part in competitions, comes after multiple attempts throughout his career.

Sharing advice for chefs taking part in competitions, Ben said: "I think taking part in a competition is good. It's good exposure, it's good to get feedback from the judges, then it's a case of believing in what you're doing and practicing what you're doing. I didn't really practice the dishes I was doing, because they were on the menu all the time, I just worked on my time plan to make sure I got it done in the right time."

"For anyone entering, give it everything. My best advice is sometimes less is more, and then obviously putting flavour first and making sure you hit the brief," Ben advised.


Whether it’s working in France’s finest kitchens, or working abroad on numerous stages, setting up his own restaurant, or entering competitions; Ben is a chef that has taken the risks and opportunities presented to him.

Talking about his attitude to risks, Ben said: "How do you know when you're going to eventually find your thing, and understand your level of cookery? Right now, at Launceston Place we're fully booked nearly every day, but that's because we found what we do and its what people love. Without taking that risk, it wouldn't have helped my career or even helped me start to build a name."

As a young chef that’s accomplished a lot already in his career, Ben’s knowledge on getting established and making a name in hospitality are traits that are strongly connected to his success as a chef.

Offering his advice to ambitious young chefs, Ben said: "I think for a young chef it's important to know what direction you want to go in, what level of food you want to be cooking at and then put your effort into working for someone that you inspire to be like."

"My team are with me because they believe in what I'm doing but then we all have the same vision so it becomes one family," he added.

Looking to the future, Ben’s aim is to continue growing as a chef and delivering for Launceston Place and its team. He’s also signaled that he may look at opening a restaurant of his own again once his journey in his current role ends.

Talking about his plans in the pipeline, Ben said: "For me to open my own restaurant would be obviously amazing but my commitment right now is at Launceston Place. I feel I have another year that I need to complete. I've never been cooking for stars, it's never been ultimate for me, but it's a goal that I want to achieve."

As well as developing his own career, Ben is also keen to help the next generation of industry talent achieve the same success he's experienced.

"From my part, I'm just going keep doing what I'm doing with the Graduate Awards. Hopefully, I can give back some experience, get more hands on and engage with getting the young chefs into my kitchen to see the vibe, which will then hopefully inspire them to go and work in other restaurants."


A post shared by Ben Murphy (@benmurphychef)

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Alex South

Alex South

Editor 28th April 2023

"I got involved with the wrong people, it was a huge learning curve."