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KIRK HAWORTH - 'Champion of Champions' in BBC's Great British Menu 2024

KIRK HAWORTH - 'Champion of Champions' in BBC's Great British Menu 2024

We have been lucky enough to know Kirk for quite a few years now, with him growing up in the same area as my family his accent and humour alone is very familiar to me. We were introduced by a mutual friend and very talented two Michelin star chef who said, "you both think the same way!" It turns out we do. Kirk is the most tenacious, hard working person and incredibly talented chef with a huge about of holistic knowledge of the body and healing food. 

 

He turned to holistic healing after being debilitated with Lymes Disease for so many years and was disappointed with the traditional health options and pharmaceuticals he was being offered.

We had the pleasure of talking to Kirk about his journey to become the 'Champion of Champions' this year on the Great British Menu and very well deserved accolade...

You won North West Young Chef of the Year award at 17, what was the allure of food over dating and partying at this age, as surely, to get such an accolade takes a lot of dedication?

Yes I was the youngest by about 5 years and it was my first ever competition so I was very scared but I was very dedicated and I knew I had trained more than anyone else and that gave me the confidence to win.

 

What direction did winning this award take your life? How did things change for you?

I was very young and I was still training for my father so I just remained focused and learning from him and didn’t get distracted from other things.

 

In 2016 you contracted Lyme Disease, firstly how did this get diagnosed?

Yes after five long years and lots of doctors I finally got diagnosed and tested in America & Germany at a cost of £3000 because our test on the NHS is extremely inaccurate to a point it’s 95% negative. 

 

Can you tell us what the doctors recommended for the management of this disease and what approach you took to the illness?

Private doctors urged me to go into hospital and do 6 days a week intravenous antibiotics for up to 4 months at a cost of £4000! Something just didn’t feel right to me in this hospital and I had inner intuition telling me no and at the same time a scared anxious feeling. At this point I knew very little about my condition but something told me to just wait this time and not rush into it so against their advice I told them I’m going to think about it. After this I spent every minute of everyday researching and educating myself on my condition and the human body, I also joined online groups and got in touch with people who had been suffering the same and got lots of opinions & advice and correlated all this together and made the decision that I was not going to do this treatment, I decided I was going to try more holistic alternative root for two significant reasons, the side affects that come along with intense antibiotics and the crazy amounts of money it would cost with no guarantee of improving and lots of evidence to say I could be worse after the antibiotics. I’m a chef so my first port of call was to do research on what foods I should and shouldn’t have in my diet and this made me release how much diet can impact our health so I started to make strict changes eg no sugar, no dairy, no red meat until I found myself eating and thriving on a solely vegetable diet. I also did natural herbal remedies, bioresonance therapy, supplements and ate a very very clean diet with no alcohol. 

 

How different do you feel on a plant-based diet with limited (if any) gluten and refined sugar? What would you say to those who think it’s too difficult?

I feel great mentally & physically, those that say it’s to difficult to be honest is just an excuse but I was dealing with severe symptoms for years and I would do anything to try and get better so I think most people don’t react until they really have to. That’s why I speak out on my Instagram page and run a programme called “chefs wellness” because I want people to take care of their health whilst they are healthy and not allow them self to get in a dark place before acting, the key word here is prevention. Before I suffered with Lyme I never realised or took seriously my health and well being I just thought I was invincible. I used to work 16 hour days and eat or drink hardly anything, I did this most of my career. 

 

Do you focus on the healing properties of plants in your recipes or the taste or aesthetics?

Emm yes to a certain extent I’m obsessed with reading up on the nutrient benefits of plants that I cook with and I find it super rewarding and interesting. But I would never serve something that has amazing nutrient benefits but doesn’t taste amazing! 

 

How did your incredible plant-based restaurant and food studio Plates London originate?

Plates originated from the negative situation I found myself in with my health and when I started to change the way I ate at home I decided I wanted to create something amazing and positive from a dark situation.... this gave me so much drive to prove to people plants can stand alone and be amazing and Plates is my answer to people.

 

What dish have you made that sticks with you in terms of connecting innovation, style and taste?

That’s a tricky one because I have a few favourites but my latest creation that I love is a dish called XO cauliflower, it’s got everything, texture, richness, acid, spice, Unami and nutritionally very good as I use an amazing seaweed from my close friends at the “Wild Room” called codium it tastes like truffles and looks super cool.... love it. 

 

Do you forage? If so what would you recommend we have a look for on our ‘once a day walk’?

Yes I forage a lot I find it helps me with my mental health and at the same time you get to pick free food that tastes better than the food you can buy in the shops so win win ! At this time of year there is lots of wild garlic, nettles, and wild elderflower should be coming through very soon which is delicious. 

 

Thank you so much Kirk, we really appreciate your time and sharing your story and knowledge. Plates London new restaurant is opening in Shoreditch on 3rd July 2024 but it's pretty much sold out so wait for the next availability drop and get in early!!

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