Episode 60 James Cochran
Great British Menu & 1251

There is no getting away from the fact that James Cochran is a dude. He’s the chef with no name and his restaurant is named after a song from The Strokes, and if that’s not cool enough, he also happens to be an epic chef, and an all-round entertaining chap.

If you look at James Cochran’s sample menus – from pheasant sausage to buttermilk jerk spiced chicken – you can see the influences that shape his brilliant cooking: Scottish from his dad; Vincentian from his mum.

When James was honing his chef’s skills alongside Brett Graham at the famous The Ledbury, he couldn’t bring these influences to the fore – great though his time with the Michelin-starred chef was. (He really does mean ‘great’, despite the 18-hour days when he never saw daylight and despite regularly missing his tube stop, because he was so exhausted).

James came into his own when he was named ‘Champion of Champions’ on the Great British Menu in 2018 and his Goat Sharing Board and legendary Scotch Bonnet Jam reached the attention of millions.

Now, as the owner of 12:51, he has the freedom to work creatively with the ingredients from his childhood. He says he ‘feels honest every day about the food he does and is happy to carry on his parents’ legacy’.

Episode 56 Harry Lomas
Head of Culinary Wembley Stadium

People often say, in an off-the-cuff way, that something they organised was ‘like a military operation’.  Well, this week’s guest, Harry Lomas, really does know what it’s like to run a kitchen as a huge, well-oiled military machine.  

Harry’s strategic skills have been honed by the 34 years he spent with the British Army.  His amazing career included a stint with The Royal Household; the position of Master Chef with the Parachute Regiment in Cyprus and, to round off, being responsible for feeding troops around the world, including Afghanistan. There he was involved in rebuilding the kitchen at Camp Bastion, which had to serve 25,000 troops at each sitting.  

The statistics become more eye-watering with Harry’s next role, overseeing the catering for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games. As you’ll hear, the prospect of serving 147,000 people a day, never seemed to daunt Harry.  That’s probably why he’s the perfect fit for the title he holds now: Head of Culinary at Wembley Stadium.  

At which point, I’ll hand over to the great strategist himself.  Only Harry can explain the complexities of cooking different meals for thousands of football fans  – and making sure they’re back in their seats before kick-off.  

Show Notes: Episode 50 – Steve Groves & Roux

Master Chef and National Chef of the Year winner Steve Groves is cool, calm, collected and really knows his stuff when it comes to being in a kitchen. Steve believes in learning on the job, taking the time and effort to really absorb knowledge from other kitchens and chefs… All whilst making the most of his family life by working as Head Chef in a Monday – Friday kitchen at Roux in Parliament Square.

Episode 50 Steve Groves – Head Chef Roux at Parliament Square

We’re diving deep into the wonderful world of restaurant kitchens this week.  Watching this chef’s career take off has been an inspiring experience for me, not least because Steve Groves started his culinary life working by the sea in Dorset, where we shared a town, and even a seafront some time ago.   

If Steve’s name doesn’t ring an immediate bell, maybe the fact that he was a winner of ‘MasterChef: The Professionals’, will nudge your memory.  It also gives you an idea of the exacting standards he works to, and why Michel Roux Jr snapped him up as a sous-chef, to join the team at The Roux at Parliament Square.  

For the last six years Steve has been Head Chef at this prestigious restaurant, giving its French classical heritage a modern twist and impressing yet more judges, most recently at The Craft Guild’s National Chef of the Year competition, that Steve impressively won.  

But as you’ll hear, Steve is not one for blowing his own trumpet. He’s more interested in developing the talent of his colleagues, making sure the whole team gels, and that they get to see their families at the weekends.  Yes, every weekend. 

And as it’s nearly Christmas, he reveals what’s replacing the traditional turkey on his  festive dinner table.