The chef with no name 24 January 2020 How James Cochran lost the rights to his own name, and his triumphant comeback with Islington restaurant 12:51
In this week's issue... The chef with no name How James Cochran lost the rights to his own name, and his triumphant comeback with Islington restaurant 12:51
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My life in hospitality: Jamie Grainger-Smith

20 March 2008 by
My life in hospitality: Jamie Grainger-Smith

Highs…

It's only been two weeks since we opened our second restaurant, Water House, so it's all been a bit of a roller-coaster ride. We're very pleased with it though, and the environmental concept is fantastic. We've got the first fully pro electric kitchen, so we're not burning any fossil fuels at all - that's half of our carbon footprint gone for a start - and being right next to the canal, we're using hydropowered energy.

The area's slightly tricky. We're in a regenerating part of east London but it suits us. It's similar to when we opened Acorn House, as that area was a bit on the dark side, and people looked at us strangely for going there. But linking in with the local community is very much part of what we're doing. We've just taken on a couple of local mums to train them up and, hopefully, we can produce a neighbourhood restaurant that people are proud of.

We've been a bit gobsmacked by all the attention, to be honest. It felt as if a lot of eyes were on us this time, and you do feel the pressure. But Arthur [Potts Dawson] and I have always been ambitious to do more, and it's still early days.

We've known each other for 10 years from our River Café days, the same time that Jamie [Oliver] worked there. I started off in front of house before going on to help launch Fifteen with Jamie in 2002, something I'm very proud of in my career. If we can achieve half of what Fifteen has, I'll be happy. Now, Arthur and I are trying to set up the Blue Marble Trust, basically doing what we do now but on a much bigger scale, helping people to take green steps. It could be very powerful for the industry.

Lows…

Putting a lot of energy into something that doesn't work out is hard. I worked on a new restaurant in Hampstead, but it closed after nine months, and seeing friends losing their jobs and all that wasted money was a bit of a low point.

More recently, with Acorn House and Water House, some people have told us that they don't get our concept, or that they just aren't interested in green issues. You can't be everyone's friend, though, and I'm getting stronger about it. If you let everything get to you, you'd never leave the house.

Age 36

Lives Kensal Rise, London

Drives Fiat Punto and an Aprilia scooter

Status Married, two sons

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