Fresh talent on the menu at Le Cochon

Great British Menu chef Josh Overington may still be in his 20s but he is already helping other young chefs. Catherine Scott reports.

Josh Overington and Victoria Roberts at Le Cochon Aveugle restaurant in York .

Some may accuse Josh Overington of being arrogant as he gives guests at his restaurant Le Cochon Aveugle no say in what they eat. They don’t even get a menu until they’ve finished, meaning they eat ‘blind’.

“Some may say that but I don’t necessarily agree,” says the 29-year-old who has worked with some of the biggest names in the industry including at the three Michelin starred The Waterside Inn in Bray and The Pipe and Glass in Yorkshire, as well as working with experimental chef Michael O’Hare.

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Last month he appeared alongside friend Michelin starred Yorkshire Chef Tommy Banks and Danny Parker in the BBC’s Great British Menu. Josh won through to the finals of the North East region only to be beaten by Tommy.

Chef Josh Overington working in the kitchen at Le Cochin Aveugle in York where the Chefs Tomorrow event is being held on Monday

“I’d been asked to take part a few times but it wasn’t the right time for us. We are very small team and I just couldn’t spare the time until now,” says Josh.

“I really enjoyed the Great British Menu all three of us are good friends and I really think we all should have got through to the final day of the regionals. I would have loved to have been at the banquet, butTommy can just do no wrong at the moment.”

Josh’s partner Victoria Roberts worked front of house at the Banks’s Michelin-starred Black Swan at Oldstead before taking over Le Cochon with Josh three years ago. In that time they have turned it into one of the most exciting and talked about restaurants in Yorkshire.

Now they want to pass on their knoweldge to other budding young chefs, despite still both being in their 20s. They are hosting the TMRW projects Chef of Tomorrow event on Monday where four young Yorkshire chefs will get the chance to work in the kitchen at Le Cochon

Grouse with baby leek, hazelnuts and blackberries, plus the heart with a liver mousse and pickled girolles crostini Picture by Bacon on the Beech

“It is so important to encourage new chefs into the business and for them to learn from some of the best as I did,” says Josh.

It is quite by accident that he even became a chef. Growing up in Beverley and going to school in Pocklington it was while travelling in Australia as 18 year old trying to decide what he wanted to do with his life that he ended up washing pots in a restaurant kitchen.

“It was the only job I could get,” he admits. “I started doing a bit of cooking on the side and I just became addicted to it. I then had a decision to make. I could either stay in Australia or come back to England and work in some of the best kitchens.”

He chose the latter working for Alan Roux at the three Michelin star Waterside Inn and then moving to Paris to hone his classical skills.

Chef Josh Overington working in the kitchen at Le Cochin Aveugle in York where the Chefs Tomorrow event is being held on Monday

“It’s not really a job, it’s an obsession,” he says.

Josh and Victoria met while they were both working in the French ski resort of Val d’Isere. Josh was a chef in a private chalet and Victoria, a trained A&E nurse was working in the clinic there.

“I broke my leg and it was Victoria who treated me,” recalls Josh. The pair hit it off, did another ski season together the following year before returning to the UK where Victoria moved to Yorkshire to be with Josh and follow their dream of opening their own resetaurant.

“I had always been a real foodie and after six years in A&E I was ready for a new challenge,” says Victoria.

Grouse with baby leek, hazelnuts and blackberries, plus the heart with a liver mousse and pickled girolles crostini Picture by Bacon on the Beech

But the banks were not keen to lend to two young people who had never run a restaurant before.

So Victoria went to work at the Black Swan as assistant manager and Josh went to the Michelin starred Pipe and Glass near his home town of Beverley, before working with Michael O’Hare at the Blind Swine in York before he opened Le Cochon Aveugle - roughly translated as the Blind Swine. When O’Hare left to open Man Behind the Curtain in Leeds which went onto attain a Michelin star, Josh and Victoria decided to take over Le Cochon.

“I always wanted a restaurant in York. We intially started serving bistro food,” explains Josh. “It was safe. But we have really developed over the last three years. We only had £9,000 and so everything has had to happen gradually as we earned enough money to make the changes we wanted.”

The couple are determined to create an experience for their diners. “We are asking them to trust us I suppose,” says Victoria, who is training to be Master Sommelier.

“But eating out has changed and I think that is what people want these days from a restauarnt like ours.”

Some aspects of the ‘blind’ tasting menu change everyday.

“The vegetables come first,” says Josh. “We get two boxes of seasonal veg at the beginning of the week, I have no idea what’s coming and then choose the protein to go with it.”

Guests are encouraged to take the wine pairing, all French.

Eighteen months ago the couple opened a second venture, wine bar Cave du Cochon, just a couple of doors down on Walmgate in York.

“It is the type of place we want to go for a drink and we are planning to add a kitchen soon, but it will be very different from Le Cochon.”

Josh Overington has been quoted in the past as saying he isn’t interested in gaining a Michelin star. Not entirely true he says.

“If Michelin offered me a star I would be made up and I wouldn’t be handing it back. But it isn’t the thing that drives me. That would be a mistake. It has to be about the food first and the experience we are giving to the diners. I can honestly say we are one of the best restaurant in Yorkshire, and we aim to be one of the best restaurants in England.”

Yorkshire chefs of tomorrow

Four young chefs will be working with Josh Overington at Le Cochon Aveugle on Monday July 17 as part of the Chefs of Tomorrow event on Monday 17 July, we

Luke Sanders, from Arras in York, Kieran Brown, from Home in Leeds, Karl Whittaker, from Le Cochon Aveugle in York and Kiera Collins, From Star Inn in the City in York will prepare and cook either a starter, fish course, meat course, or dessert. This invaluable experience upholds the crux of the TMRW Project: a collaborative project started in 2015, run by Dan Doherty (Group Exec Chef of Duck & Waffle), Anna Sulan Masing (Food Writer and Creative Consultant), and General Manager Emma Underwood. Chefs of Tomorrow York will kick off at Le Cochon Aveugle on Monday 17 July 2017 at 7pm. Tickets can be purchased for £35pp + booking fees. The ticket includes a four-course dinner and a welcome drink.

For more informatioon visit www.chefsoftomorrow.co.uk

www.lecochonaveugle.uk

Josh Overington will be demonstrating at the Great Yorkshire Show tomorrow