Meet Ben Lippett, Brighton’s Young Chef of the Year
64 Degrees chef, Ben Lippett, discusses how he came to Brighton and into the restaurant industry, leading to his recent award as Young Chef of the Year 2018.
Brighton and Hove’s food scene is more vibrant than ever with hundreds of restaurants offering diverse cuisines leaving you spoilt for choice. 64 Degrees chef, Ben Lippett, has recently been recognised for his culinary talent
Ben was awarded Young Chef of the Year at Brighton and Hove Food and Drink Festival at the end of November. After moving to Brighton from Portsmouth in 2012 to study American Studies at the University of Sussex, it was only through cooking that Ben found his feet.
“It was my first experiment as a cook and I was subconsciously hooked.”
Now completely immersed in the food industry at one of Brighton’s best restaurants, Ben recalled what catalysed his interests in cooking. Making a simple pasta sauce continues to be what Ben described as a lasting “food memory” for him.
“I remember finding some vermouth to put into in the sauce, I had no idea what vermouth was or whether it would be tasty. It turned out to be delicious and I was immensely proud of the results. I think it was my first experiment as a cook and I was subconsciously hooked.”
The Italian influences did not halt there. “I started baking bread, making pasta from scratch, pickling and curing things, all welcome distractions from the third year at college I was undertaking to try and get into university,” Ben said. Italian dishes continue to be his favourite cuisine to make at home.
“I craved a bigger challenge and eventually moved to 64.”
Another influential moment was eating at one of London’s Michelin starred restaurant, The Square, in 2013: “It changed how I looked at food entirely; it was and still is the best meal I’ve ever eaten. Phil Howard has been a food hero of mine ever since.”
Ben described one of his first cooking jobs in Brooklyn, New York, where he learnt skill and discipline in the kitchen: “I lived there for a year as part of my degree and worked with a brilliant Puerto Rican chef called Manny. He taught me how to be a line cook and work really really hard. I’m very grateful as mastering that is half the battle.”
Back in Brighton, chef work took Ben to Cafe Plenty, allowing his evenings free to play in bands: “I really enjoyed it there, but I craved a bigger challenge and eventually moved to 64.” With no formal training aside from practising at home and learning on the job, Ben joining the team at 64 Degrees, a small plate restaurant started up by Michael Bremner (64 Degrees, Murmur).
When asked if he thought the restaurant industry was becoming more accessible and attractive for young people, Ben said it comes down to patience: “It is truly a case of knocking on a door and asking for a job, that’s how I met Sam Lambert at 64 Degrees and eventually found a job there. As far as it being attractive, it’s totally subjective. It should definitely come with the expectation that you won’t earn much money at first, the hours are long and the work is tough, but that shouldn’t deter a young person from giving it a try.”
“I’m very proud to work in a city with such exciting restaurants.”
Among some of Ben’s personal favourite places when dining out in Brighton include CinCin, Murmur, Fatto A Mano, Bincho Yakitori and The Chilli Pickle. Although, Goeman Ramen is his favourite place to eat lunch on my day off.
Ben praised Brighton’s food scene for providing interesting and diverse cuisines from all over the world: “I’m very proud to work in a city with such exciting restaurants. Street food is definitely more prevalent than it used to be, maybe usurping restaurants a little when it comes to the foodie limelight. The level of food you can get from these stalls is outstanding but I’d almost always rather a restaurant!”
Special thanks to Brighton Food and Drink Festival for providing the image.