MasterChef finalist to open restaurant at Celtic Manor
Former MasterChef finalist Larkin Cen will launch his first restaurant in a joint venture with the Celtic Manor Resort.
The restaurant will be called Cen with an emphasis on Asian flavours and creativity. Cen (pronounced with a soft c, as in “central”) will open on January 29 in the five-star resort’s Manor House. It will be Celtic Manor’s first Asian restaurant, joining a portfolio of six other restaurants.
"Cen means innovation and forward thinking in Chinese and, coupled with the fact that I have always had the complete support from my family in pursuing my dream, it seemed fitting that the restaurant should be given my family name. I’m incredibly excited to be launching a restaurant at the Celtic Manor. The Celtic Manor has a reputation for fine dining and I’m over the moon to be working with the culinary team at the resort to bring a different Asian food experience to the diners’ tables."
Larkin is a third generation chef and his family history is steeped in food and cooking. He grew up in his parents’ Chinese takeaway in Ely, Cardiff, but left to study law and became an employment lawyer in Bristol.
Despite his successful legal career Larkin applied for MasterChef to gain some credibility in the world of food and to display his passion for Asian cuisine. Appearing on the programme reaffirmed his belief that the Chinese hot food sector was dated and fragmented, so he developed the popular Hokkei takeaway business in Cardiff and will now realise his ambition to open a restaurant.
Larkin has already cut his teeth as a restaurateur at the Celtic Manor when Hokkei was launched as a pop-up restaurant at the resort, selling out for its four-day run in 2013. Larkin added:
"It’s over two years since the pop-up and so to be returning to the Celtic Manor to open a different and unique Asian restaurant is wonderful. I’m really looking forward to showing my passion and enthusiasm for Asian food to a different culinary audience. I can't wait to get stuck in. The challenge in a takeaway setting is that you have to make food under extremely tight timescales and produce food that travels well. Cen is a restaurant with table service and we will have more flexibility to be artistic with plating up and with innovative ideas for the dishes. Quitting my day job as a lawyer to pursue a career in food has been incredibly challenging, but very rewarding. I want to transfer my skills to the restaurant environment and working with the Celtic Manor will be an incredible opportunity to learn from an experienced and talented group of chefs."
Cen will serve innovative pan-Asian dishes ranging from delicious fluffy steamed bao buns filled with hoi sin duck or pork belly, to succulent sharing platters of Peking duck and Korean fried chicken.
The restaurant will occupy a space which currently houses Le Patio bistro in the resort’s Manor House. It will be refurbished in a colonial style for the new Asian concept.
Celtic Manor Resort Culinary Director Peter Fuchs said:
"As he showed when reaching the final of MasterChef, Larkin Cen is one of the most talented young chefs around and we are delighted to be working with him to create this new restaurant. We have always been interested in opening an Asian restaurant at Celtic Manor and Cen gives us a real opportunity to launch something new and exciting in this marketplace. It’s going to be a very popular addition to our culinary offering for hotel residents and local diners alike. We can’t wait to open the doors.”
For more information visit celtic-manor.com or call Reservations on 01633 410262.