Meet the Maker
The garden-to-plate chef that Hampton Manor has nabbed for its Supper Clubs.
We catch up with James Goodyear on his travels in Mexico. He’s been there for four weeks, with another two to go. Before that he was Head Chef at Spanish restaurant Wellborne in the Pyrenees, proceeded by a stint staging in Copenhagen. His career has led him far and wide, but the tying thread has been a focus on seasonal produce gathered from the local land and served with finesse.
‘We [my Mexican girlfriend and I] went to a little restaurant in the north of Mexico the other day. It was remote, with no internet or telephone signal. It’s run by a local woman who gathers produce every morning with her friends and cooks what she finds on an open fire. Her food is served in wooden huts and consisted of corns and chillis that I’d never tasted before. These are the experiences I travel for.
The street food in Mexico is an experience in itself. There’s corn on every street, with tacos, tortillas and the freshest fruits on the market. To offset the causal we went to a restaurant in Mexico City called Quintonil where we experienced fine dining interpretations of the Mexican specials.’
What are the food and hospitality experiences that have stood out for you across your whole career?
It’s the Nordic experinces that have left a lasting impression [James worked at three star Maaemo in Oslo for a year]. I’m drawn to welcoming, homely dining experiences. Comfort as opposed to high end. The cuisine that I like to cook represents the region, serving only seasonal produce. I like it to be very refined, with but with a touch of recognisability. I use classical cooking techniques to create dishes with interesting flavours, like fermentation for example. Back in the UK I look forward to using the techniques picked up on my travels to make the most of the produce around me.
How did James and Fjona lure you back to Hampton Manor to cook for a series of Supper Clubs?
‘The only time I’ve seen Manor Cottage was as a building site. But James showed me the images of the finished product and I was sold. He told me he wanted a menu inspired by the produce in the Walled Kitchen Garden. He mentioned the food counter and relaxed dining spaces which offer unique, informal styles of dining. It was spot on.
Can we have a taster of what you’ll be cooking?
I’ll be cooking what’s available at the time so the specifics will be dictated by the garden. That’s how I like to work. I have a lot of ideas and techniques, but these will all come into fruition once the ingredients are in front of me. I definitely want to be using the Big Green Egg so will be cooking whole fish and meat on that. The menu will be very simple and flavoursome, but finished with finesse.
What’s the grand plan once Supper Club comes to an end?
At the moment, who knows? I’ll be heading back to Wellborne when the ski season re-commences. Until then I’m excited to be working with James [Hill] and in a new space. I hope I’ll be able to do more pop ups in the UK. I love travelling, it’s a good way to get inspired and see different things, but I think I’m coming to the end of my time abroad. I plan to come home and, after cooking in a lot of different places for some incredible chefs, come into my own.
We’ll be the first on the waiting list when that day comes.