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The 19-year-old head chef who has cooked for royalty chats to HELLO! Online

16 APRIL 2013

Luke Thomas has trained alongside some of the world's top Michelin-starred chefs including Heston Blumenthal, Gary Rhodes and Thomas Keller and he's worked at celebrity hotspots such as Sandy Lane in Barbados, the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, The Fat Duck and The French Laundry pop-up at Harrods.

Now, aged just 19, the Justin Bieber lookalike is the UK's youngest head chef and the subject of a fly-on-the-wall documentary which follows him in the first year of his restaurant opening – Luke's Fine Dining at Sanctum on the Green, near Marlow in Berkshire.

Luke speaks exclusively to HELLO! Online about cooking for the royals, his new pop-up above one of Prince Harry's favourite nightspots in Mayfair, and how he wants to create an empire like Jamie Oliver's.



How did the North Wales-born 19-year-old become head chef so young? The handsome chef, who has a Jamie Oliver happy-chap air about him, has been cooking since the age of 12, working evenings, weekends and holidays.

When was his last day off? "February 2012, before Luke's Dining Room opened." 

When we ask how he keeps going, working from 7am until midnight, he explains that the key is that for him, it's not work. "It's what I do, it's what I love. I don't call it a job, it's what I enjoy."

Having worked at some of the world's top restaurants, it's only natural that Luke has cooked for royalty. But he takes it in his stride, explaining: "I used to work at the Chester Grosvenor Hotel and it's owned by the Duke of Westminster so they do dinners and lunches for The Prince's Trust.

At the opening of Liverpool One for example, royals were there, and maybe even the Queen." But it's all a part of the job – "a lot of high profile guests come to lots of the restaurants I've worked in."




The talented chef's expecting more famous faces at his new pop-up restaurant, due to open next month in swanky Mayfair. The classy spot will be above one of London's celebrity-favourite nightclubs, Embassy, where Prince Harry parties. 

If the dishes served at Luke's Dining Room are anything to go by – his signature dish is "a curry dish, with some scallops on there and some crispy mussels, some mango" – guests will be in for a treat. The pop-up restaurant, which will last six months, is in conjunction with restaurateur and hotelier Mark Fuller, who has proclaimed Luke the next Marco Pierre White. 

Who is Luke's biggest influence? Surprisingly, it's not one of the Michelin-starred chefs he's worked with. It's Jamie Oliver. "I'm a big fan of his. He gives people what they want, he cooks food that people can go away and cook at home, his restaurants are accessible.

"I need to follow this model because what he's done is create this empire which is so successful. Although Luke's Dining Room is a little bit more refined in the sense of the food, I call it the mix between a gastro pub and a restaurant. It's not as casual as a gastro pub and not as formal as a restaurant, it's just got great food, great wine and great service."

Try Luke's succulent rib of Welsh beef with peppercorn sauce...



Interview by Miriam Foley

The BBC Three documentary will air on 17 April at 9pm.

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