Flash-grilled: James Lovatt

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Flash-grilled with James Lovatt  head chef at Mark Birchall's Moor Hall Estrella Damm National Restaurant of the Year

Related tags: Moor Hall, Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards, Restaurant, Fine dining, Chef

The head chef at Mark Birchall's Moor Hall, which this week was named the Estrella Damm National Restaurant of the Year for the second year running, discusses his career.

What was your first industry job?
I was very lucky to get a job as a chef for my first job. I worked at the Old Tramshed in Saltaire at the age of 15 doing small prep jobs.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
It would have to be something active or outdoors. Perhaps foraging for restaurants.

What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
Gordan Ramsay as I grew up watching Boiling Point, F word ​and Kitchen Nightmares​. I loved these programmes, so naturally, I started thinking about becoming a chef. I would buy his books and look into his career, what he achieved and how he achieved it.

Pet hate in the kitchen?
Knives that roll over and face upwards on the workbench. It makes me cringe every time.

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
We have been asked on a few occasions to serve the beef tartare well done!

Sum up your cooking style in a single sentence…
Modern British focusing on local and hyper-seasonal produce.

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
We once had a review where the guests complained about how informal the rest of the guests looked.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
It goes without saying that a good sharp knife is a must have!

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
It would have to be comfort food like a homemade lasagne as a main then a classic lemon tart with fresh raspberries to finish. 

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had in a restaurant?
In 2018 I ate at Geranium in Copenhagen whilst on my honeymoon. The whole restaurant experience was amazing and the food was faultless.

Favourite fast food joint?
My guilty pleasure is a Big Mac every so often.

Most overrated food?
Finger limes. I just can’t understand the fascination with them.

Who would your dream dinner party guests be?
Ray Mears, Jurgen Klopp and Bradley Wiggins.

Twitter or Instagram?
Instagram would always be my first choice for social media.

What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death? 
I managed to roll my car over six days after passing my test when I was 17. Luckily I got away with just a few cuts and bruises.

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
On my days off when I want to relax I usually go out for a walk with the family, maybe along the beach in Formby, or head out on a long bike ride, particularly when the sun is shining!

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
I would always say to anyone starting out in the industry that you need to be patient. Learn your craft and in time the rewards will come to you if you work hard.

The Estrella Damm National Restaurants awards are based on votes cast by chefs, restaurateurs and food writers. To see the full list of the UK’s top 100 Restaurants, as well as all the individual category winners, click here​.

Related topics: Chef, People, Profiles

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