Passionate about the future of food, Merlin Labron-Johnson is a young British chef on a mission. Supporting and championing a number of charitable and altruistic initiatives, Labron-Johnson works to create a conversation around food and address key issues, both within his community and beyond.
Despite his youth, Merlin Labron-Johnson’s career to date has been an exceptional one. Head chef of Portland when it launched in 2015, here Labron-Johnson gained a Michelin-star just mere 9 months after opening, at the age of 24. He went on to garner critical acclaim across the board for Portland and sister restaurant, Clipstone (August 2016).
Cutting his teeth at two-Michelin-starred 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, Labron-Johnson’s cooking is clean yet informal and abundant; shunning trends in favour of compelling dishes. His food is imaginative yet refined, combining a consummate understanding of classic French techniques with modern sensibilities.
As an active philanthropist, much-valued time off is often spent cooking at the Refettorio Felix centre 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. Merlin has also been partnering with the UK charity, Help Refugees , cooking in refugee camps across Europe - most recently, Chios - for thousands of refugees a day.
Merlin has just launched his first solo project: Osip, which is a farm-to-table restaurant with rooms in rural Somerset. At Osip, Merlin farms his own vegetables, herbs and fruit and he cooks a daily changing set menu based on whatever produce is good that day for a small dining room. The menus are predominantly vegetable-based but feature small amounts of wild game and local poultry.