The introduction of Pollen Street: the Cookbook takes the reader back to a pivotal moment in Jason Atherton’s career: when he resigned from the Gordon Ramsay Group.
It was potentially a risky strategy, given the Kitchen Nightmares frontman’s grip on the London dining out scene, but 15 months later, Atherton fulfilled his dream and his restaurant, Pollen Street Social, was born.
Unsurprisingly, the book is as classy as its namesake. Four hundred pages of indulgent paper stock lead the reader through more than 60 recipes, each one running across four to six pages, and an appendix that includes a further 50 recipes for sauces, stocks and flavoured oils.
The book has eight chapters covering canapés, starters, shellfish, fish, meat and game, poultry and game birds, sweets and petit four (sic), each interspersed with insights from Atherton’s most treasured suppliers, such as Yun Hider of Mountain Foods, who supplies the restaurant with wild herbs and vegetables.
Stunning imagery by photographer John Carey supports the recipes, which include signature dishes such as fish and chips – confit potato served with three delicately piped dots of taramasalata – and bitter chocolate pavé, served with olive oil biscuit, black olive tuile and olive oil jelly.
Atherton’s devotion to sourcing the finest produce is beautifully summed up by the book’s cover – an illustrated map of the UK comprising fresh produce and animals, created by artist Ben Ashton. The original oil painting hangs in Pollen Street Social today.
Atherton’s impact on the global food scene cannot be overlooked. This is demonstrated by comments in the book from mentors Ferran Adrià and Marco Pierre White, and peers such as Daniel Humm and Thomas Keller.
But it’s Nico Ladenis who perhaps best sums up his protégé: “Jason spent two years in my kitchen at Chez Nico at Ninety Park Lane. Two things stood out during this period. First, his complete assurance, and then his blinding determination. Add to this his talent and you have a young chef who now straddles the catering scene with panache and brilliance.”
Pollen Street: the Cookbook by Jason Atherton (Bloomsbury, £50)