Revelations: James Harris, head chef, Beckford Bottle Shop, Bath

22 September 2023
Revelations: James Harris, head chef, Beckford Bottle Shop, Bath

We delve into the life and inner thoughts of a top chef. This week: James Harris, head chef, Beckford Bottle Shop, Bath

What was your first job in catering?

Potwash! I believe everyone should spend a decent slog on pots, they're a crucial member of a functioning kitchen team

What do you normally have for breakfast?

If I've got time, a bacon and sriracha sarnie, but normally it's whatever is left over from the kids' breakfast

What do you do to relax?

I like to spend as much time outdoors as possible, whether it's a walk in the woods with the family, foraging or out managing deer on new forestry plantations

Which ingredient do you hate the most?

Cucumber on its own is vile; however, salted and pickled they are delicious

Are there any foods that you refuse to cook with?

Foie gras. I used to love it, but as I get older and my decisions around food become more ethical and sustainability-led, I've left foie behind

How would you describe your desk?

Whichever table in the restaurant is clear at 23:30 on a Saturday night

Which person in catering have you most admired?

I've admired different chefs at different stages of their and my career – Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White, Gary Rhodes, Jamie Oliver, Tom Kerridge, Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall – the list goes on

Which person gave you the greatest inspiration?

When I told my school I wasn't going to finish my A-levels, the head of pastoral at the time said: "If you fail Harris, there is always night school", and that's stuck with me

Cast away on a desert island, what luxury would you take?

A fishing boat – not to get back to civilisation, but to fish and return to the island

What irritates you most about the industry?

The guests that don't understand they're paying for everything around them and not what is just on the plate or in the glass. Good service and food costs money

What is your favourite prepared product?

Jalapeño poppers – elite snack

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