Leeds chef Jono Hawthorne on Masterchef, pushing boundaries and opening Chef Jono at V&V

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Opening a new restaurant in the throes of the pandemic was a gamble - but one that has paid off for Jono Hawthorne.

The Leeds chef, better known as Chef Jono, shot to fame after appearing on Masterchefs: The Professionals in 2020.

He wowed judges with his creative, daring and utterly delicious food - battling his way to the final six.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Since appearing on the show, Jono has opened his first restaurant, Chef Jono at V&V, and was crowned Chef of the Year at the Yorkshire Evening Post's Oliver Awards 2022.

Jono Hawthorne is the chef patron of Chef Jono at V&V in New BriggateJono Hawthorne is the chef patron of Chef Jono at V&V in New Briggate
Jono Hawthorne is the chef patron of Chef Jono at V&V in New Briggate

"Masterchef: The Professionals was an amazing opportunity," Jono told the YEP.

"I was honoured to be on the show, it is without doubt one of the hardest experiences.

"Not only as you are working in an alien environment - very aware of the surrounding cameras and the team behind them, being interviewed while cooking to a strict time limit - but also because the nation is watching and judging you every week.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"As a contestant, you have a very limited time slot to really showcase your skills to everyone.

Jono's raw venison dish from his May tasting menuJono's raw venison dish from his May tasting menu
Jono's raw venison dish from his May tasting menu

"The team on the show are brilliant to work with and the other chefs are all amazing."

A professional chef for more than 16 years, Jono has trained at some of the world's best restaurants, including the Michelin-starred Noma in Denmark, Quay Restaurant in Sydney and The Box Tree in Ilkley.

Read More
Opera North announces opening date for new Leeds restaurant as part of £18m rede...

After months of planning, he embarked on his first solo venture last year, taking on the former Vice and Virtue where he was previously head chef.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Jono added: "Appearing on the show has given me an amazing support network which has been vital in the success of my own restaurant.

"Opening a new restaurant as we crept out of Covid restrictions was a gamble, but thankfully I have had an incredible amount of support."

Jono had a big night at the Oliver Awards - as well as scooping Chef of the Year, Chef Jono at V&V came away with the ultimate accolade of Overall Restaurant of the Year.

Judges praised Jono's signature tasting menus full of daring dishes, for example, octopus with lychee, peanut and coriander, ramen broth with hen's egg, seaweed and corn and a mushroom tiramisu.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He has also crafted vegetarian, vegan and Sunday lunch tasting menus.

Jono said: "We try to create a relaxed atmosphere for guests to enjoy the ambience, but without compromising the standards of fine dining.

"From the team serving them to the kitchen brigade - everyone is focused on creating a memorable experience with great food and drinks for our guests.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"There may be dishes which guests may not be accustomed to, such as our mushroom tiramisu, but so long as guests leave happy that's what's important."

"I am known for pushing boundaries with food, but it isn't simply just to shock," Jono added.

"I believe food should look and taste amazing and if that involves using less traditional ingredients which make my dishes stand out from the status quo - then that is just a bonus.

"Inspiration comes from everywhere: my experience as a chef, places I have visited and even books that I have read.

"It's not hard to find inspiration if you're open to it."

Related topics: