Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas has done some incredible things in his short 19 years, including working with Heston Blumenthal as well as a number of other Mitchelin star Chefs.

He's opened his own restaurant and he's won numerous awards for his work but Luke has only just got started.

Now, he's starring in The Great British Menu so we caught up with him for a chat.

So you’re featuring on The Great British Menu this year, can you tell us a little more about that?

Well, The Great British Menu is on BBC2 every day for a week from the 18-22 March at 19:30. It’s a very big deal in the cooking industry, it has huge viewing figures, and this it’s in aid of Comic Relief and everybody is supporting the charity.

The idea of the menu you put together is meant to be very fun, very cool, playful and not just a plate of food but much more than that. There are three Chefs from each region that compete, lots of Michelin star Chefs, who’ve been in the industry for years. I got invited onto the show and took the opportunity.

Can you tell us a bit more about what you’ll be doing for the show?

I can’t release what I’m doing in terms of the menu, I’m so sorry but they’re really a nightmare with that. But the menu is based around Comic Relief!

What inspired your passion for food?

Well, I started cooking at the age of three at home and by the age of 12 I had my first job in the industry. I grew up in the age where TV Chef’s became quite cool and it changed the food scene. Especially when Jamie started The Naked Chef, food suddenly became different in the sense that you could be a lot more creative, and food could be a lot more rustic.

I really think he changed the food scene a lot and he certainly inspired me hugely in terms of what I’m doing. People always ask me what my favourite cook books are and I always say Jamie Oliver books, not to copy his recipes but in terms of inspiration for ingredients and the things that he puts together and the rustic approach to his food.

So that’s where it all started, but when I started school I just knew that it wasn’t for me. I didn’t like sitting behind a desk, I like being hands on, I like being creative and like having fun. I love food, I love cooking and that’s when I knew that the career choice for me was a Chef because it is the perfect job.

At that point I started speaking to various restaurants and hotels, to see if I could get some work experience in the industry and see if it’s where I wanted to be, and I immediately fell in love with it and I knew it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

You’ve won so many awards for your cooking, how does it feel to have achieved that by just 19 years old?

It’s amazing and it’s nice to be recognised. The most rewarding thing is when you go out to a table once they’ve finished the meal and you get that feedback from the customers saying the food was amazing, and that’s the biggest reward because they’re paying guests so if they don’t like it they’ve very willingly tell you so!

Young Chef of the Year, it was such a big deal and it’s highly recognised and winning that out of so many people was a real achievement, that was the most prestigious award. The biggest one of all though was the Future Chef Award.

You worked with a number of amazing Chefs as well as working in many Michelin star restaurants, which experience was your favourite?

Working with Heston Blumenthal was amazing, the restaurant, the food, Heston himself. That was by far top of the list!

Now you’ve got your own restaurant, Luke's Dining Room at Sanctum on the Green, which is celebrating its first birthday this month, you must be incredibly proud of that?

Yeah, it’s amazing to think that it was a year ago that it all properly started. It’s quite interesting when you look at where we are because we’re in five miles of two Michelin star restaurants, it’s a real gastronomic area and people take food very seriously.

Initially people asked me why I would open in the country and not in central London but I was saw it as a platform, it’s a great area that is close enough to London to attract the big names and critics and when we do get coverage people will be willing to travel to it.

The area that we’re in, food is really appreciated and people do recognise good food so it’s really rewarding from that point of view.

Will you be doing anything big to celebrate the first birthday?

We had a dinner last week where we invited our regulars and suppliers to really thank them for their support over the year and to show them where we are at now.

You’ve had so many opportunities in just 19 years, are there any opportunities that you hope will present themselves in the future?

I think this year is going to be a really exciting year and there are already offers coming in at the moment for various exciting projects and in the next couple of weeks there will be some exciting new coming out but there is lots of things happening and hopefully there will be a book and more TV coming this year. Who knows, maybe another restaurant!

If it was your last day on Earth, what would your last meal be?

I like too many restaurants, I couldn’t have one last meal I’d have to go to a few different restaurants. I’ve got some real favourites in London but it’s so difficult!

There’s about six restaurants and I’d go around each of them and then my guilty pleasure is coco pops so I’d have to have a bowl of them as well.

And what’s your favourite comfort food?

I love pasta, simply because I don’t really cook it at the restaurant, so I like eating pasta at home. My favourite day off restaurant is called Piccolino’s, it’s an Italian restaurant and I always eat there on my day off, I love Italian food.

Easter is on the way so what is your favourite chocolate recipe?

Well, I’m not a massive dark chocolate fan! I’ve got this theory that the best chocolate in the world is Cadbury’s Dairy Milk by far. You know when people spend about £20 on a bar of dark chocolate from the supermarket, they say it’s nice just because they feel they have to, because it was so expensive.

But you notice, they never finished it, they take a few chunks and say they’ll finish the rest tomorrow and never do. But actually they all much prefer Dairy Milk and I certainly do, or a Twirl or a Crunchie, they’re the best chocolate bars.

Finally Luke, what is next for you?

My documentary goes out in May so that will be a pretty big time. There is lots of potential stuff coming out this year, I don’t know what my next projects is exactly but there could be a book, a cooking show, who knows!

Luke is currently starring in the Great British Menu which is on BBC2 at 19:30. Have you been watching? Tell us what you think by commenting below or tweeting us @FemaleFirst_UK

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