The Perception at W London – Leicester Square tapped Ben Murphy, one of the UK’s most exciting culinary talents, to kick off the third installment of the W Dining Series. It’s a personal journey down memory lane, with dishes that evoke childhood memories in a playful yet cutting-edge way.
The menu offers up unexpected twists on British childhood staples, like eggs n soldiers, a parfait served with crunchy chicken-skin granola, followed by a whimsical take on a Choc Ice for dessert. “I wanted to take people on a journey when they eat my food,” says Ben, “and showcase that a tasting menu can be fun and not over complicated.”
We caught up with Ben to hear all about his detour from life on the football path, and how he decided to play with his food instead.
How did your collaboration with W come about, and what prompted the theme, childhood memories?
BM: When W London approached me to head up the next chapter of its Dining Series, I was excited to accept as I love the feel of the hotel and how W Hotels are renowned for always mixing things up. It’s a brand that is passionate about creating playful and surprising experiences for their guests which is very much what the concept of this menu is all about. I think Soho is such a melting pot when it comes to food, so it was a dream to work together and just let my imagination and creativity run wild.
What was your approach to putting together the menu?
BM: I focused on two important elements: firstly I wanted to take people on a journey when they eat my food and showcase that a tasting menu can be fun and not over complicated. While secondly, I kept in mind that I wanted the menu to bring people together to celebrate, catch up and let loose – especially at this time of year!
What’s your favorite dish on the menu?
BM: It is hard to choose but the egg n soldiers is something I feel particularly proud of, it will stay with me for the rest of my career. The choc ice is full of nostalgic memories for me – that was a pleasure to recreate.
When did you first become enamored with food? Was cooking a big part of your family life?
BM: I always showed an interest in food despite no-one in my family having a chef background. It didn’t become a passion of mine until I was 16, when I used cooking as an outlet during my injury from football. I had dreams of playing professionally for Arsenal. At 16, I was training hard locally, and I had trials at Queens Park Rangers. My football career was going well until, unfortunately, I broke my collarbone and was out of action for a while. I used my food technology classes at school as a focus during this time as I loved the practical side of cooking and found it really engaging.
Do you ascribe a philosophy to your craft?
BM: Food cooked correctly. Playful, respectful to the ingredients, maximized flavor to its full potential.
What is your absolute favorite thing to eat?
BM: I like simple things. Macaroni and cheese, your typical Sunday roast, the more casual dining dishes.
If we see you at the bar, what’s your drink of choice?
BM: Jack Daniels & Coke, when not working.