James Parsons is executive chef at the Langstone Hotel, Portsmouth
What was your first job?
The armed forces catering corps when I was 15
What do you normally have for breakfast?
Fried eggs with za’atar and olive oil
What do you do to relax?
I’m a family man, so I enjoy spending time with my family. I’m also a keen coarse fisher
Which is your favourite restaurant?
That’s a tough one, but I’d say the Clock House [formerly Drakes] in Ripley, Surrey, clinches it
What’s your favourite hotel?
I have a special fondness for Pennyhill Park, also in Surrey
What is your favourite food?
Mediterranean. I like food I can graze on for a long time
Which ingredient do you hate?
Truffle oil. It has a tendency to overpower other flavours
Are there any foods/ingredients that you refuse to cook with?
I think you’d be hard-pushed to find a chef who would refuse to try an ingredient What is your favourite drink? Arabic coffee – it’s a taste sensation!
How would you describe your desk?
In my view a tidy desk makes for a tidy mind, so my desk is generally very organised
Which person in catering have you most admired?
Marco Pierre White – his influence and approach to food has been inspiring and game-changing. The number of professional chefs who rate him over all others speaks for itself
Which person gave you the greatest inspiration?
My major general when I worked in the catering corps. He challenged me to eat in as many restaurants as I could and to explore new foods and trends
Tell us a secret…
I’m a complete chocoholic – even my daughter’s chocolate stash isn’t safe!
What irritates you most about the industry?
I do my best in the kitchen and try to make a positive impact
If you had more time, what would you do?
I would reflect on my blessings and enjoy the little things that make life special every day
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