Part of The Big Feastival 2018 line up...
Despite his relative youth, Merlin Labron-Johnson’s career to date has been an exceptional one. Head chef of Portland since it launched in 2015, here Labron-Johnson made his name; gaining a Michelin-star just 9 months after opening, at the tender age of 24. He went on to garner critical acclaim across the board for Portland and, more recently, its sister restaurant Clipstone which he launched in August 2016. He plans to launch his first solo project in London in 2018.
Cutting his teeth at the two Michelin starred restaurant Albert 1er in Chamonix and cult one star restaurant In De Wulf in Belgium, Labron-Johnson honed his skills throughout Europe prior to moving to London. Led by seasonal produce and inspired by nature and the Alps, Labron-Johnson’s cooking is clean yet informal and abundant; shunning trends in favour of delicious and compelling dishes. His food is imaginative yet refined, combining a consummate understanding of classic French techniques with modern sensibilities. Committed to culinary excellence whilst minimising wastage, Labron-Johnson’s approach sees fruit and herb trimmings, animal fats, offal and bones reintegrated into the menu at Portland. Passionate about charity work, much-valued time off is often spent cooking at the Refettorio Felix center for homeless people, using produce rejected by supermarkets, and also contributing to the Chef’s Manifesto, in support of the UN’s sustainable development goals.
Respecting the likes of Momofuku, Septime in Paris and Contra in New York, Labron-Johnson is undoubtedly a name to watch – a determined young chef who exemplifies the forward-thinking talent currently dominating London’s culinary scene.
Chef of the Year - London Restaurant Festival 2017 (Merlin Labron-Johnson)
30 Under 30, ones to watch - CODE Hospitality (Merlin Labron-Johnson)
One star - Michelin Guide (Portland) Bib Gourmand - Michelin Guide (Clipstone)
Restaurant of the Year - GQ Awards, 2017 (Clipstone)