“In hospitality, catering and cooking, you need to really learn your craft”

Alex South

Alex South


Known for his work at the Michelin-starred Kitchen W8 and his unique interpretations of modern British cuisine, The Staff Canteen sat down with Mark Kempson to learn more about his career, seasonal British produce, and supporting chefs of the future.

After leaving college, Mark started his professional career at The Lamb Hotel in Hartley Wintney in 1997 as a Chef de Partie.

Following a couple of positions at Pennyhill Park Hotel in Bagshot and the Vineyard at Stockcross, Mark started work under Phil Howard at the Square in Mayfair, where he was part of the team that won the restaurant’s second Michelin star.

In 2009, Phil and his business partner Rebecca Mascarenhas opened Kitchen W8 in the heart of Kensington where Mark was appointed the restaurant’s head chef.

It wasn’t long before Mark’s influence took hold, with the restaurant receiving a Michelin star in 2011 after opening less than two years before.

“I believe winning the star came about by staying true and following the path of what we set out and intended to be. We didn't start jumping around saying 'right, we're going to start chasing a star now’,” explained Mark.

Thanks to Mark’s clear vision for the restaurant and his talent in the kitchen, Kitchen W8 has retained it’s Michelin star for over a decade.

Describing how the restaurant has achieved this incredible feat, Mark said: “We wanted to be a professional restaurant serving serious food that's accessible to many, sourcing the best ingredients, cooking them with love and respect, and we haven't really moved the goalposts on that over the years and we're just stay true to what we set out to intend to be.”


Since opening in 2011, Kitchen W8 has effortlessly woven itself into Kensington’s distinctive and charming neighbourhood, serving its locals as much as food destinations tourists.

Commenting on Kitchen W8’s atmosphere, Mark explained: “We wanted the restaurant to be used by regulars who come for impromptu visits, and special occasions.”

He added: “Obviously, once you gain a star that that does attract destination diners as well, people from overseas, people from outside of town, but basically first and foremost, we're a neighbourhood restaurant serving the locals of Kensington and slightly further afield.”

The restaurant’s menu is made up of seasonal, modern European food, based on classical flavour combinations.

“We don’t anything wacky or out there, you know, everything's come from classical training, just using the best ingredients we can, and serving it in the best way we can,” described Mark.

As well as being awarded a Michelin star, the restaurant has launched the careers of numerous chefs, and received glowing reviews from some of the country’s finest critics and reviewers.

Earlier this year, Kitchen W8 won the 2022 Eat Game Awards Best Restaurant after being selected by diners eating at the restaurant and a thorough inspection by the awards adjudicators.

Commenting what this mean for the restaurant and his team, Mark said: “Winning the Eat Game Awards was extremely special from the team and me. I personally have a real passion for cooking with game and I thoroughly enjoy teaching the team how to cook game and get the most from these special ingredients.”

“I think game needs to be promoted. I think it's my duty as a chef to do that and it's truly seasonal, ethical, full of flavour, lots of nutrients, it's a no brainer to promote it and serve it,” Mark added.


For Mark and his team at Kitchen W8, the coming weeks are packed with a variety of events and collaborations.

From November, Mark and his team will be hosting a one-off game pop-up menu at Putney’s SW15 which is expected to seat 90 people.

Mark will also be cooking at the Holland and Holland shooting grounds on 12 November for an event called ‘Glorious Game’, where clients can pay for a morning shoot, followed by a game tasting banquet.

For Kitchen W8 from 15 November, following the end of game season, diners will be able to celebrate truffle season with some exciting additions expected to feature this year.

“We're using the English Wiltshire truffle, we have the Perigord truffle, and obviously the white truffle, which is at the height of its season,” explained Mark.

Commenting on his love from truffles, Mark said: “We do this every year, and vary the menu each year so it's different and it keeps our clientele coming back. I think it's great to have a menu that uses all the varieties that are available at the same time.”


Through his extensive experience, Mark’s influence is one that exceeds the confinements of Kitchen W8 and is felt across the industry.

For him, his priorities beyond the restaurant are ensuring that the future of the industry is properly equipped and supported in the right way.

“I think what's important is to learn your craft. That applies to any job that you want to do but I think especially in hospitality, catering, cooking, you need to really learn your craft,” he said.

Commenting on how the next generation of chef can best achieve this Mark explained: “You need to immerse yourself in the industry and be like a sponge. You need to absorb everything that's going on around you, everything that you're being told. I think if you work for great people, and you gain great foundations, great things will follow.”

Sticking to his commitment to pass on his wisdom to the next generation of industry talent, Mark will be holding a game cookery demonstration at West London College at the end of the month.

Explaining why this event is important to him, he said: “These students are the future of our industry and I think that it's important that chefs get out there and reached out to this young new talent and get them engaged. This is something that I want to do more of next year. I think it's a really important thing for our industry.”

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Alex South

Alex South

Editor 7th November 2022

“In hospitality, catering and cooking, you need to really learn your craft”