In 1998 Luke returned to the UK from Dubai and secured a position as commis chef at the exclusive Orrery restaurant in London alongside chef Chris Galvin. He gained extensive knowledge on fine cuisine from working across some of London’s finest and busiest restaurants including The Oxo Tower on the South Bank.
This wasn’t Luke’s only experience in top restaurants, he travelled across Europe working in kitchens with the likes of Stephane Buchholzer, a specialist in molecular gastronomy. This experience ultimately changed his philosophy on food forever and firmly placed his focus on cooking locally and seasonally, at the highest level. He then eventually found his way back to England and finally Lime Wood.
In 2013 Luke partnered with one of the UK’s most loved chefs and restaurateurs, Angela Hartnett, to create Hartnett Holder & Co at Lime Wood, number 19 on our list. The food story has continued to evolve at Lime Wood with Luke at the helm. He focuses on health and provenance and creates a relaxed, stylish and comfortable environment. Sustainability resonates loudly at Lime Wood, and Luke and his team continue to work with suppliers to cut down on unnecessary packaging. Luke started #chefsagainstplastic in 2020 to allow time for the supply chain to catch up with the pressing urgency to change.
His menu reflects a deep consideration for the individuals who come through the doors with more plant-based dishes and gluten free offerings. Luke has created a more balanced menu where the mainstay of your meal doesn’t have to revolve around meat. In Spring 2021, under the banner of HH&Co, The Scullery is a new plant-based offering at Lime Wood in response to increased consumer desire for plant-based nutrition to aid a healthy lifestyle, as well as for environmental reasons.
Get to know Luke
What got you into cooking?
I grew up in a house where food was an important feature around our family. Some of my earliest memories are around cooking and eating.
After travelling around the world at 18 I decided on a bus journey from Nepal to India that I wanted to become a chef!
What do you enjoy most about your industry?
Having a relationship with mother nature, cooking with the seasons, the comradery and team spirit of the kitchen.
Biggest achievement to date?
Having a happy family at home and at work
What makes dining with you so special?
Hopefully a humble approach to cooking where the producer is centre stage, as we make a huge effort working on who is involved with our supply chain. Spend more time sourcing it and less time cooking it. Story telling table side about the producers is what make us different.
What advice would you give to an aspiring chef?
Embraces your mistakes and they are more valuable than your success. Mistakes are not a negative thing (in fact they are an inevitable thing) as long as you learn from them.
Where’s your favourite place to eat?
I love the seahorse in Dartmouth – Mitch Tonks and Matt Prowse are some of the best hospitality people I know.
What cuisine is your favourite to cook?
At home – Thai, professionally Italian
Least favourite ingredient?
What’s a signature recipe of yours?
Polenta ravioli with truffles, it’s been in the menus for nearly 11 years or so
Who’s your biggest influence?
Robin Hutson has taught me more about hospitality and cooking from the guest’s expectation than anyone else. I have worked for many great chefs who have given me a love for what I do, but Robin Taught me to think broader and understand the guests experience and how important that is. Sit and eat in your restaurant more than you feel you should it teaches you a lot. Don’t get caught in the echo chamber of your own kitchen and team.
Angela Hartnett taught me about leadership and the importance of your suppliers, simplicity, and energy. She is a visionary businesswoman and I owe a lot to her for guiding me and developing me beyond the stove.
I have grown so much working under these two it’s hard to put into words the gratefulness I have for both of them, they are both unbelievably talented and teach you about the subtle details that make hospitality work for everyone.
What’s your signature cooking style?
Humble, honest, clean, & relevant