James Cochran is cool, calm and passionate about cooking in a way that honours his roots and allows his parents legacy to live on. Starting in the kitchen at just 12 years old, James enjoyed the long hours and graft that came with his job back in the day… Going on to wine the Great British Menu and open his own restaurant in London certainly made his old mentors very proud… His aim now is to get himself a cooking show that offers an alternative perspective, and maybe in ten years or so to open a small restaurant in his beloved home town of Whitstable.
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’.
Hawksmoor has an awesome reputation for not only caring about the food they serve, but the way they source it and the staff they employ to serve it. Will Beckett is one of the awesome guys behind this amazing business, full of life, excited and scared as Hawksmoor plans to make it’s way into New York… He and Hugh started off as school buddies, and as Will explains himself – they’ve now created something pretty darn cool.
If there is one restaurant on this planet that embodies purity of intent and an obsessive eye for detail, it’s Hawksmoor.
Whether you’re in London, Manchester, Edinburgh or New York (which will, or has opened, depending on when you listen) you know you’ll be given exceptional food, but with none of the stuffiness that used to come with such wonderful dining.
As regular listeners will know, I have the privilege of interviewing dozens of hospitality legends. Without fail, whenever the Hawskmoor name crops up, people express their appreciation for the awesome, well deserved, and exceptionally consistent reputation.
Hawksmoor’s founders, Will Beckett and Huw Gott, have stuck to their original vision, doing simple things really well and delivering them in beautifully relaxed settings, which feel like they’ve been there forever.
But doing simple things brilliantly takes a lot of time and effort. My conversation with Will gives you an insight into the incredible amount of thought that goes into every tiny detail – from sourcing ingredients from the best ethical producers to calibrating the level of smoky grit on the grills used to cook the famous Hawksmoor steaks…. To even rummaging through second-hand shops to find the right architectural features for each of their venues.
Hawksmoor is an inspiring example of how you can build your business with integrity, on both sides of the Atlantic. And if you’re wondering why Hawksmoor dares to bring its offering to the USA, home to the steak restaurant, start listening now to find out…
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.