Ben Boeynaems

Ben Boeynaems

Ben Boeynaems

Ben Boeynaems began his career working for the likes of Gordon Ramsay and Eric Chavot in some of London’s most renowned kitchens. His refined yet approachable style of classical cookery has since led him to head and executive chef positions at The Goring and The Beaumont Hotel.

It’s sometimes hard for chefs to pinpoint exactly what made them choose a career in cookery. Some might have grown up watching their chef idols cooking on tv and wanted to follow suit, while others simply fall into the profession by accident. For Ben Boeynaems, his desire to become a chef simply stemmed from a total love of eating and that has translated into a passion for working with food, which shines through today in his classic yet creative dishes.

Ben was just fifteen when he first started working a Saturday job at a restaurant near where he grew up in Molesey and even at that point he had no doubt as to what he wanted to do, ‘my parents had tried to encourage me to do other things,’ he says, ‘but I knew I wanted to work in a kitchen and as soon as I did, I fell in love with it.' On Saturday mornings he'd work at a local butcher, where they’d get him to cook sausages on the sandwich toaster for samples, before going on to work in the kitchen at The Mitre Hotel. 'The whole environment was great,' he adds, 'but it was the fact that I was getting to cook, eat and taste all these amazing things that really excited me.’

Once he’d finished school, Ben took up a full-time position at the hotel and began undertaking an apprenticeship, opting to learn on the job rather than going to catering college. ‘I wanted to learn from people who were actually doing it,’ explains Ben, ‘and at the time, the person who everyone wanted to work for was Gordon Ramsay. Everyone said there was no chance of that, so I made that my aim.’ In 2001, Ben started working at Ramsay’s Pétrus and within a few months was asked to be part of the opening team at his new restaurant in Claridge’s, where he would go on to work alongside many of the rising stars of the industry at the time.

‘They told me that they were going for three stars at Claridge’s and asked me if I wanted to be a part of it,’ says Ben, who was just seventeen at the time, ‘and even though I had very little experience, there was no way I was going to say no. I did two weeks training at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay with the night baker, making tart cases and macarons and then I started at Claridge’s. The most amazing thing was the team I was working with, who all went on to take over London. Angela Hartnett was running the chef’s table, Alyn Williams was on fish, Simone Zanoni was on meat, and Josh Emmett was on the pass.’

After a year, Ben left Claridge’s to take up a position at the Michelin-starred McClements in Twickenham. This began a period that saw him move around a lot, spending stints with both Eric Chavot at The Capital and André Garrett at Galvin at Windows, as he honed his craft. ‘I think I was just on a mission to learn as much as possible because I hadn’t gone to college,’ he explains, ‘working for the Ramsay group was great but it got me used to doing things a certain way, and I think it took me a bit of time to figure out my own style.’

An important moment in Ben’s career came in 2010, when he joined the team at The Bingham to work under Shay Cooper – a chef who he found particularly influential, ‘Shay’s a chef with incredible pedigree,’ says Ben, ‘his presentation is so sharp, as is his cooking technique, so I learnt a lot from working with him.’ He went on to spent three years at The Bingham, before Shay left to become executive chef at The Goring, bringing Ben along with him as head chef.

‘It did feel like a step up when I became head chef at The Goring,’ says Ben, ‘but I already knew that I worked well with Shay, so it wasn’t too daunting. It was special being able to take the restaurant from where it was to winning a Michelin star there, especially since I was at The Bingham when it lost its star, so I knew how much it meant to Shay to win it back.’

Throughout his time at both The Bingham and The Goring, Ben had been able to have more and more influence on the menu, but it was in his next position as the head chef of the fast-expanding Zetter Group, where he was really able to start experimenting. Overseeing the food at multiple hotels and bars, he began to figure out the ingredient-led style of food that he loved to cook, but also realised that he thrived when given certain limitations. ‘I do think that being given some guidelines can actually help your creativity to flourish,’ he says, ‘like at The Goring, we were told we had to have a beef Wellington on the menu, so it then became our mission to make it the best beef Wellington possible.’

This led Ben to taking on the role of executive chef at The Beaumont Hotel in 2021, where he would have freedom over the menu at its Colony Grill Room, whilst still needing to keep up traditions, ‘my aim is to keep it modern, creative and ingredient-led but not obscure,’ he says, ‘you’ve got to respect the hotel for what it is, and there are classics which they've always served, but I try to put my own spin on things.’ Dishes such as a monkfish Wellington and smoked eel carbonara perfectly showcase this balance between playfulness and tradition, and have fast become staples of Ben’s menu.

Ben’s refined yet crowd-pleasing food at The Beaumont continues to win him plenty of new fans and has also seen him make the finals of National Chef of the Year (Craft Guild of Chefs). He may have cut his teeth in the industry working with some of London’s finest chefs, but he’s gone on to earn himself an impressive reputation of his own and shows no sign of taking his foot off the gas.