There have been so many culinary achievements in Laura Skvor’s young life that it is fair to say her career has been meteoric. From launching her chocolatier business at fifteen; TV appearances at nineteen; Best Commis at 2018 Bocuse d’Or Asia Pacific; to currently working alongside Simon Rogan at his flagship restaurant L’Enclume in England; Laura has accomplished more in her twenty-three years than many do in a lifetime.
Like many good chef stories, the beginning is telling – how this dynamic young Australian chased her dreams. It was making ANZAC cookies with her mum that are Laura’s earliest memories of cooking. Her favourite part was stirring the bicarbonate soda mix into hot golden syrup and butter, “you add the two and this magic frothy explosion occurred.” This alchemy of cooking ignited a culinary infatuation. Distinguished chefs such as Rick Stein, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and above all Heston Blumenthal, shaped her passion. “I watched cooking shows religiously in my youth. Heston showed me that you can do anything with a little bit of clever and cunning.”
A teacher at high school, an enthusiastic chocolatier, showed Laura the artistry of chocolate. And Laura was smitten. She enrolled at Savour in Melbourne and from the age of fifteen, “I had a micro business selling chocolates and macarons to whoever would buy them.” A couple of years later Laura graduated from high school, and her photograph caption was ‘to open a restaurant and achieve world no.1 status’.
The meteoric rise
Laura continued to watch cooking shows, this time My Kitchen Rules, so her brother talked her into applying. Laura 19, and Mitch 21, were accepted as the youngest 2016 MKR team. “MKR taught me a lot about politics and people,” Laura says. It also confirmed she should pursue her dream of being the world’s number one chef, so Laura quit her linguistics studies and enrolled in commercial cookery at TAFE.
A whirlwind of achievements materialised: an apprenticeship at Petit Tracteur on the Mornington Peninsula under Stuart Bell; gold at the 2017 regional Vic AUSTAFE; overall gold at Vic 2017 AUSTAFE; and then a connection with Michael Cole (Head Chef at Georgie Bass in Flinders, Victoria). Together they won selection to Team Australia; representatives in the world’s most prestigious gastronomy competition, the Bocuse d’Or. The pair travelled to Singapore in 2018 to compete in the semi-finals where Laura picked up the prize for Best Commis.
The UK dream
Laura arrived in the UK at the start of 2020, to pursue her international ambition. She had just started at L’Enclume in the Lakes District when COVID-19 hit. “I worked lockdown helping to make meals for the NHS, and take-home dining packs,” she says. Luckily it was also high foraging season, “with loads of wild garlic, mushrooms and other delicious wild wonders for me to find,” she says. Laura also established and rehabilitated bees back to Our Farm in Cartmel. The farm had one neglected beehive which she brought back to health, and then split it into new hives. Laura is very proud of the fact, “we now have three boisterous beehives pollinating all our wonderful vegetables.”
Laura believes sustainability will be a huge focus across the next five years. She has noticed UK restaurants seeking out more organic and biodynamic products as well as ethically raised rare breed meat. And the pandemic has changed the way consumers view eating out, “people are cooking at home, which has shown them the cost of good produce, and the luxury of a meal out.”
And Laura’s dreams? “My head is so full of exciting plans that sometimes I think I’ll pop.” Laura’s big dream is to buy land and have a farm supply her on-site restaurant. “I am saving up to study the pastry arts at the best school in France.” Then what? “Open a ‘farm to table’ patisserie. It’s not been done yet so is a pretty exciting concept.”