MasterChef winner Steven Edwards
owner of Etch.
Steven Edwards is the British Chef who won the 6th series of MasterChef: The Professionals in 2013. in doing so he became one of the youngest ever winners of the competition at the age of 26. He is the resident chef for the English sparkling wine brand Nyetimber and after we experienced a private food and wine pairing with his dishes we had to get in touch to find out more.
Hi Steven, could you tell me where your passion for food came from? What lead you to where you are today?
I have always had a passion for eating food but the idea of becoming a chef really started when I was about 14 when I saw Jamie Oliver on TV. Both my parents where in the industry and tried to put me off but I loved the environment of the kitchen and became a chef when I was 16 working in a country house hotel in Buckinghamshire. From there I worked in a few different kitchens before settling down at South Lodge hotel in Horsham where I worked with Michelin starred chef Matt Gillan at the Pass Restaurant.
You won the 6th series of MasterChef: The Professionals in 2013, in doing so becoming one of the youngest ever winners of the competition at the age of 26. What was this like and what did it mean to you?
For me its been one of my biggest achievements as a chef and feel I have really built my career on this success. I don’t think I would have my own restaurant now without this achievement. To win a competition like this helped me to believe in myself and ultimately gave me the confidence to start Etch.
Why did you enter MasterChef?My Executive Chef at South Lodge Lewis Hamblet had the application and thought I would be a good candidate. I was a bit unsure about applying as I didn’t want to mess up but Lewis convinced me to apply and the rest is history. It sounds strange but I never thought of myself as a TV chef by winning. I literally saw it as a competition to showcase my style of food
We attend the private lunch you held at Nyetimber which was truly wonderful! One dish in particular stood out to me was the ‘Blood orange and beetroot ice cream’ which is quite an idea to come up with for a desert! Why did you choose this desert for Nyetimber?
This is one of the newest dishes in my repertoire. I change the menu every month at Etch. so in total I have about 100 dishes in my collection. These change each year as I try and develop and refine my style. Last year this dish was blood orange and honey but I found it quite sweet and didn’t really have a contrast. What I love about the combination with beetroot is that its unusual and really brings a great earthy flavour to the final course on the menu. When Brad & Cherie send over the pairing notes, I thought this would be a perfect dish to finish the meal on.
When you curated the menu for Nyetimber did you start with the food and pair to the wines or did you start with Nyetimber’s sparkling wines and pair those to the food?
So the menu design for Nyetimber was a joint effort. I know Brad & Cherie quite well and they know what works with their wines. I looked at dishes that I have done in the past and discussed with them what could work for this particular event. The food was definitely matched to the wine but what was important for me is that each dish also complimented each other and that it was right for this time of year.
How do you select the wines in your own restaurant?
The wine list at Etch. changes each month as we offer two wine pairings for each course on the menu. We also have a large wine list (about 120 bottles) which has been put together by our restaurant manager and sommelier Sam Weatherill. In terms of criteria they need to complement the food but also be a little different to wines that you can get anywhere else.
What wines do you enjoy drinking and why?
I have started really getting in to red’s like Margeaux but my favourite go to would be the Albourne Estate Bacchus. I love floral fresh white wines especially as we are moving in to the spring months. In terms of Sparkling there is only one winner for me and that is Nyetimber. We are one of the only restaurants in the country that serves Sussex Sparkling and no champagne.
When you’re at home do you have a different approach that is more relaxed to cooking?
At home I like to keep it simple. One pot wonders are what I love like a nice shepherd’s pie or lasagne. I think a lot of people are always surprised I don’t cook restaurant food at home.
You have done pop up restaurants at Latymer and Blenheim Palace. What were these like compared to running a restaurant?
I did a number of successful pop-up in the time between masterchef and getting my first restaurant. This taught me a lot about the concept I was trying to create and was also great for investors to see the potential. To be able to cook in locations like Blenheim and the Latymer was an amazing experience. Doing a pop-up is a lot harder than having a restaurant as there are a lot more logistics involved but I learnt so much from doing them which gave us a bit of head start when it came to opening the restaurant.
What plans do you have for the future?
I hope to have a pub soon, that is my next big project. I want to have somewhere that can offer real pub grub but still sticking true to my style by being ingredient led, seasonal and local.
Thank you Steven, it's been a pleasure. We look forward to you owning that pub soon! If you would like to know more about Steven Edwards and his restaurant, visit his website: www.etchfood.co.uk