Amber Francis

Cooking over Fire

No stranger to getting her hands dirty in the kitchen garden, Amber Francis the 27-year-old chef cut her culinary teeth at The Ritz before moving on to more produce-driven kitchens such as the Bermondsey Larder and The Zebra Riding Club in Hertfordshire (where she was tending to vegetable patches and chicken coops). Although now in London, where vegetable patches are few and far between, it’s this eco-conscious food ethos she has carried into her new role at Maene, the rooftop restaurant above Europe’s largest yoga studio, Mission, in Spitalfields. 

The converted Victorian warehouse’s top floor – furnished with cobalt-blue furniture, varnished wood accents and industrial filament bulbs – was the brainchild of restaurateur Nick Gilkinson (owner of Whitechapel’s Townsend) and opened its doors to the public last month. Embodying a buzzy, community atmosphere, Maene – an old English word meaning connections to community – was a perfect match for Francis, given her involvement in locally-run programmes such as the Hackney School of Food and The Felix Project. She was also crowned Young Chef of the Year 2022 at the British Restaurant Awards and appeared on Great British Menu earlier this year, making her one of Britain’s most talented rising culinary stars.