MasterChef finalist and Clapham resident Billy Wright talks to The Resident about his future plans, his favourite local haunts and an exciting collaboration with fellow finalist, Jack Layer
Words: Madeleine Howell
When we heard a rumour that MasterChef runner-up and Clapham resident Billy Wright (who works for Randell Commercial in Battersea by day) and his fellow finalist, Fulham foodie Jack Layer, were planning to collaborate, we had to find out more…
Despite having an operation the day before and apologising profusely for being unable to cook breakfast, Wright (his current go-to brunch is asparagus with poached eggs and truffle sauce – he’s even cultivating a truffle tree in the garden) is bubbling over with enthusiasm – although doesn’t want to give too much away just yet.
‘It’s very early stages,’ he confides. ‘Jack and I live close by and get on really well. We’ve had a few chats over beers. Whether television, books or a restaurant, we think that together we offer more than we would on our own.’
Shortly after going to press, however, we discovered that H.en, an ethical chicken restaurant based in Brighton, is to launch a new London residency in Islington on 21 July 2016 with, you guessed it, MasterChef finalists Billy Wright and Jack Layer! Roosting on Upper Street for six months, H.en will offer Londoners a fresh outlook on the humble chicken, with a ‘beak to feet’ menu using high welfare chickens raised on Caldecott Farm.
Wright describes himself as the ‘joker’ of the two and Layer as ‘studious’, but his own kitchen is filled with cookbooks – ‘much to my other half’s annoyance,’ he laughs. Sat Bains is a key influence – the Michelin-star chef inspired Wright’s controversially plated shepherd’s pie, which saw the judges nicknaming him Salvador Dali. He’s also a big fan of Robin Gill at The Dairy and The Manor, and is often to be found enjoying the burgeoning biodynamic wine scene in south west London.
Appreciation for good wine and a love of Michelin-star dining aside, Wright is no food snob. On the eve of the MasterChef final, he admits, he ended up in McDonalds taking selfies after enjoying a private screening at The Alma in Wandsworth. He’s not shy of classic family meals, and cites game dishes and beef wellington as firm favourites – ‘I love anything wrapped in pastry,’ he admits.
‘I’d like to go to Vietnam, India, and the US. I love curries and my pie dish was a duck curry pie. I know Jack’s been to Vietnam before. Perhaps we could go on a little trip there,’ he muses. As his truffle tree hints, Wright is also au fait with the trend for urban farming. ‘I’ve just planted some peas, beans and herbs. There’s a whole underground farm beneath Clapham Common, Growing Underground. Which would make a wonderful episode,’ he hints.
Billy’s operation didn’t hold him back for long…