Chef Proprietor, Sorrel, Dorking.
Trained with Marc Veyrat at the L’Auberge De L’Eridan, Lake Annecy.
Steve Drake has worked in some of Europe’s best kitchens: Chez Nico at Ninety Park Lane; the Oak Room with Marco Pierre White; Pied a Terre; Aubergine, as well as short stints at L’Arpège in Paris and L’Auberge de l’Eridan, Annecy. Steve first rose to prominence when he won the Roux Scholarship – widely considered the most prestigious, and technically challenging, competition in the UK – and continues to be closely involved with the Roux family and his fellow scholars to promote their aim of inspiring and enabling a new generation of British chefs.
Following his win in 2001, Steve went on to gain his first Michelin star at Drake’s on the Pond in Abinger Hammer. He then opened Drake’s in Ripley where he held a star for a further 14 years. He has been voted Surrey Life’s ‘Chef of the Year’ for the last two years running.
Regularly featured in both national and local press, Steve has consistently featured in the UK’s leading ‘Top 100’ lists including The Sunday Times, Restaurant Magazine and Square Meal. In 2013, Steve purchased The Anchor, also in Ripley, where his team have created a relaxed atmosphere for people to enjoy a simplified version of his food, alongside a great pint.
New restaurant, Sorrel. Steve left Drake’s at the end of summer 2016 to open Sorrel, a new modern fine dining restaurant in the heart of the Surrey Hills. Inspired by simplicity, discovery and the ingredients themselves, Sorrel’s menus constantly evolve to follow and reflect the seasons. The restaurant has received rave reviews (The Guardian review and The Telegraph’s Michael Deacon) and in September 2018 it won Surrey Life’s Food and Drink Awards Restaurant of the Year). In the Michelin Guide 2019, Steve was awarded a Michelin star for Sorrel, less than a year after opening. He said: “This is my third one star to be awarded to me and most definitely the one that means the most. I say me, as the first two where awarded when I was on my own in the kitchens, since then I’ve learnt the value of having an amazing team around me and to share this with them all is very special.” And as if that wasn’t enough good news, Steve also won AA Restaurant of the Year 2018-19 (England) for Sorrel.
Talking about his stage experience Steve said, “When I won the scholarship I wanted to go somewhere different. I’d had 3 star experience already in London with chefs like Marco Pierre White and Nico Ladenis so in a sense I knew what to expect.
I thought it would be fun to go somewhere to work under someone who was pushing the boundaries and that turned out to be Mark Veyrat in Annecy du Lac in Savoie. He was one of the first chefs to start doing tasting menus which many other top French chefs were critical of at the time. I thought it was great.
What I really learnt during my time there was more about the whole picture, the operation and I wanted to run my own place later so I tried to learn as much as I could about the whole business.
The food was very simple and relied on the quality and simplicity of the ingredients. Tasting menus would often run to 20 courses and there was absolutely tons of crockery, glassware and cutlery to go with it. One of the greatest dishes was a John Dory dish that was cooked on the bone and then served on stones that had been collected and kept in the oven so they were really hot. The guest ate the fish off the stone and when the juices ran out they sizzled on the hot stone. The only accompaniment was a simple mountain herb from up the hillside but so many of the dishes were like this and the whole experience was just a symphony of flavours.”
I think the experience made me realise that things are achievable. I mean Mark Veyrat achieved it and that gave me the confidence to take the plunge when the time was right.
I really enjoy being a Roux Scholar. Its great to meet up with the others and have a laugh and talk about what we do and go on the trips that Michel organises. The recent trip to Germany was an inspired choice.