Flash-grilled: James Harrison

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Credit: Charlie McKay
Credit: Charlie McKay

Related tags: Chef, London, Head chef

The head chef at The Engine Rooms on the Great North Road in London's Finchley on his first industry job, favorite food and drink pairing, and what his signature dish is.

What was your first industry job?
My first job was as a kitchen porter in the Bamford Arms in Stockport while I was studying.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
Food journalist, maybe in the future it’s a possibility.

What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
Claude Bosi, absolute legend always at the top and reinventing.  

Pet hate in the kitchen?
Maximising space, hate finding half-full containers.

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
That I look like Ben Fogle.

Sum up your cooking style in a single sentence…
Seasonal products cooked with care and respect.

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
A couple complaining about price of the food. But in thinking about it I haven’t had a really bad review.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
Spoons – got to taste everything before it leaves the kitchen.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Sunday roast or a bacon and egg sandwich cooked by my grandma.

À la carte or tasting menu?
Tasting menu.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had in a restaurant?
Commerce 24 in Barcelona.

Favourite fast food joint?
Taco Bell.

What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Fried chicken.

MasterChef or Great British Menu?
Great British Menu.

Most overrated food?

Restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?

Who would your dream dinner party guests be?
Al Pacino, Denzel Washington, Johnny Wilkinson and Marie Curie.

What’s your earliest food memory?
My grandma’s cheese and onion pie. Naughty but nice.

Twitter or Instagram?

What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
I have been hit by a car on my bike. I wish people would take more care on the roads

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
Play tennis or rugby. For holidays Croatia - island hoping on a boat.

Tipple of choice?

Favourite food and drink pairing?
Curry and a pint of beer.

What do you consider your signature dish?
Heritage crispy carrot.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
If you work hard and dedicate time to the job you will get your rewards. No sacrifice no victory.

Related topics: People, Profiles, Chef

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