Ben Murphy is the wunderkind of British dining and Food and Travel’s Breakthrough Chef 2016. He tells Mark Sansom about his stellar chef’s education and his ethos towards food Ben Murphy was born in Brent Cross in 1991. Despite being raised on potato smiles and turkey dinosaurs, he won the NZUK Young Chef’s Culinary Challenge and a WorldSkills gold medal aged 19 and Young Chef of the Year, Young Spanish Chef of the Year and Young National Chef of the Year aged 20. Now 25, he’s worked at five three-star Michelin restaurants. He opened The Woodford on the east London and Essex border in March this year, and is a serious contender to receive a star in the 2017 Michelin Guide. It isn’t the first time that Food and Travel has been in our Breakthrough Chef of the Year’s dining room. Cast in hues from deep blue to purple, it’s one of the warmest spaces in the country and could easily qualify as a fitting tribute to the late Prince. However, this hasn’t always been the case. The last time I was here it was a try-hard Essex nightclub and I watched as four no-neck door staff carted a wide-eyed gentleman through a fire escape. Thankfully, no ghosts of its sordid past remain. What 25-year-old Ben Murphy and the team behind his restaurant have done with the space in the short time since it opened is nothing short of remarkable.