James Golding was passionate about cooking right from the start. Securing an apprenticeship and leaving home at the age of just 16, James climbed the cheffing ladder all the way up to the very top… Now owning an award winning, truly beautiful group of hotels and restaurants. No cheating, no luck – just pure passion that is reflected in all of The Pig venues that James plans to keep on living for generations to come. Learn a whole bunch more about how The Pig and it’s inspiring group chef director came to be in this weeks episode.
00:00:00 Marks introduction
00:02:10 Meeting James Golding, setting the scene in Studland – The Pig on the beach
00:02:37 James’ first memory of Hospitality – living with parents that could cook
- 00:03:20 “My Nonna as well, when we were kids, nobody got to sit there – you had to be in the kitchen, you had to be cooking… Which for me, was fun. Making risottos and things like that.”
00:03:57 Starting at college & chatting to David Boland at a careers fair
00:05:21 How did James secure the cheffing apprenticeship & leave home at just 16 years old?
- 00:05:48 “…You do tend to see something in that person. You tend to know the kid that will do something and the kid that’s maybe doing it because they think it’s good at the time, or their parents want him to do it… I’m hoping, maybe David Boland has a different story, that maybe he saw something in me that he liked.”
00:06:35 How did leaving home and going to London at just 16 feel?
- 00:07:59 “One of the things I always remember is at the Savoy at the time, sort of mid-nineties – it was one of those places where people work for a year. So you went there for a year, you worked in a few sections and you left on the exact date that your year came up and you got given this beautiful Savoy certificate… and then you had this amazing paragraph at the bottom that was your reference.”
00:09:10 The amazing training that the Savoy offered – and working with Mark Hix at La Caprice
- 00:10:11 “It was the mecha of butter, cream, foie gras, truffles, caviar – everything that you can think of that was expensive.”
- 00:11:46 “You went from someone that kept in the background to somebody who was encouraged to be part of it. And I think that sort of culture shift in the kitchen was alien to me – and it was one I have always adopted with every kitchen I’ve worked in since then.”
00:12:08 The technical skills James learnt at the Savoy – does he still use them now?
- 00:13:50 Innovation of making hollandaise sauce throughout James’ experience
- 00:14:50 “When we are in the kitchen, a lot of these young chefs – you say to them: “have you tried that?”. They say “yes chef”… And you can tell by their face that they haven’t tried it. So you get them to try it – and the next question is… How does it taste?”
00:16:12 Ending up in New York – becoming head chef of Soho House
00:17:22 The difference in American food culture and British food culture
- 00:18:35 “It was just the sheer size of these animals that made me have to adjust the whole way I understood cooking meat.”
- 00:18:25 The “Fat Concept of Cream”
00:19:42 What motivated James to come back to the UK? Breaking his foot was one reason!
- 00:20:10 “When you can’t walk, and you’re in a foreign land, and you’ve got a new baby, sometimes it just makes sense to come home.”
00:21:30 Teaming up with Robin Hutson to open up The Pig in July 2011
- 00:22:48 “When you go and talk to somebody who’s also passionate about what they do, and you see how that could fit into your world… it’s amazing really.”
- 00:23:57 Opening, and immediately winning awards
00:24:24 What is The Pig?
- 00:23:38 “Our food philosophy is that we source 80% of everything that’s on the menu from within a 25-mile radius, and then what we can’t source in that radius we produce ourselves.”
00:26:29 Chatting charcuterie & cheese – how UK production is different
- 00:27:25 “The common denominator was that everybody who produced it was passionate about it. They wanted to show you everything that they did – and when you gave them praise, you could see it was very personal to them.”
00:29:58 Foraging & The Pig – how growing up in the New Forest impacted this
- 00:31:10 “Foraging has always been a big part of my life. My kids go out foraging with me, and it’s not just about going out and finding those free foods – it’s also about health benefits.”
00:32:55 How do you learn where to start foraging? – “You can eat everything once”
00:34:11 The difference in the gardens in the Pig venues – why they differ and how they change the menus
- 00:34:34 “We have our seed plan meetings every year. So we all sit down, and go through what we planted on the previous year and what we want to change.”
00:36:52 The challenge of changing the menu everyday & logistics behind that
- 00:38:09 “Every day is a training day.”
00:40:05 Finding chefs that care, and work with the gardens to create menus
- 00:40:56 “When you do an apprenticeship, you’re obviously governed by what the government thinks you should be teaching, and also what the establishment is going to train you when you’re in there. It was quite apparent that everything we did here was not being taught on any sort of government programme.”
- 00:45:18 “if you can get them excited in hospitality, there’s so many different avenues – I mean, how many people wake up in the morning and think… ‘I want to be a cheese monger.’”
00:46:37 The responsibility for humans to know where food comes from – does James think this is a necessity? Talking calories, produce & over-regulation
- 00:50:45 “We do this thing at the Chefs of Doctor school programme where we go into schools and talk to children about the importance of healthy eating… Kids of a certain age are fed what their parents feed them. The amount of kids at these classes that don’t know what a leek is or something like a red onion.”
- 00:52:02 “We need to get people understanding that life’s not about food that’s produced by large companies… It’s about people who are cooking out of love.”
00:52:47 James’ thoughts on vegetarian & plant-powered foods
- 00:54:08 “I don’t think it’s as black and white as vegans and vegetarians anymore. The amount of kids that I talked to – a lot of them are more ‘flexeterians’.”
00:56:03 James’ opinion on chefs and how they have adapted to veggie & vegan menus
00:57:56 Sustainability & what else The Pig does to look after the planet
- 00:59:32 “The whole ‘building the next generation’ is something that I think is our biggest focus at the moment.”
01:00:15 The type of people who work in hospitality – creative, passionate & eccentric humans
- 01:03:27 “This is what I do. And I love sitting down with my family, round a table and having a meal. Its where there’s no phones, no tablets, no iPads – and the kids talk.”
01:04:16 What is James’ favourite part of what he does?
- 01:06:21 “At the end of the day I truly believe you only get out of your industry and your life what you put into it.”
01:09:00 Good & bad advice from James
- 01:09:34 “You’re never too old to learn. As a chef, you’re always learning. If you have a passion for food – you should always follow that passion.”
01:11:19 What’s next for James and The Pig?
01:12:22 Where can you find out more about James and The Pig venues?
01:12:55 Marks signoff, final thoughts
If you’re looking to learn a little bit more about the amazing James Golding, his journey as a chef starting at 16 and the amazing ‘The Pig’ locations: check out the podcast here or check out James & The Pig’s social channels & website:
James’ personal Instagram: @james_golding_chef