Chef’s Table Interview with Head Chef James Askew
James Askew, Head Chef at The Greyhound, Beaconsfield
James’s cooking style is modern British, with European influences.
He works closely with growers and producers to utilise the best of seasonal, local and UK-wide ingredients.
James has been with The Greyhound since the opening when he joined as sous chef. He previously held roles at the highly acclaimed Odettes’ in Primrose Hill, where he worked under chef Bryn Williams, and the widely-recognised White Oak in Cookham, where he worked under Clive Dixon
Q: What would be your last dish (to eat) “the death row question”
A: It would have to be the humble chicken wing; its a favourite of mine as its such a diverse piece of meat in my eyes. You can have it with sauces, you can stuff it or simply just barbecued. It’s so full of flavour. I love them simple fried with some hot sauce and a blue cheese dip
Q: If you were not a chef, what could you have been?
A: I was on the verge of joining the military, but while waiting to apply I did a week or so in a local kitchen and that was it, I fell in love with the creativity of it.
Q: Which restaurant would you like to go to? (that you haven’t had the opportunity to visit yet)
A: No. 6 in Padstow, Paul Ainsworth’s restaurant – Paul Ainsworth at No. 6. I’ve always loved his cooking. At its heart, it’s all about fish and seafood – a real passion of mine.
Having had multiple friends dine there and tell me how amazing it is, I will be sure to get there soon.
Q: Which city/cities are the most innovative in terms of food?
A: I think my top two would be firstly London as its so diverse and then Barcelona as I’ve been there recently a few times – its a real mixture of old school traditional cooking and a real modern nuanced style of cooking.
It is great as they really focus on their local produce and what is grown in each region.
Q: We understand you have a passion for working with fish and seafood where did that develop?
A: That started from quite a young age, before I was a chef as we regularly took family trips to Italy and the north of Scotland to visit an aunty.
One of my early memories is of prepping amazing fresh mussels with my uncle direct from a harbour market in southern Italy and cooking them then and there.
That’s the same for family visits to many parts of Scotland and cooking some great fresh fish, salmon and trout and the stunning shellfish, crabs and lobsters.
Q: What is your favourite dish on the current menu/s in which you use produce from your most local supplier?
A: I think that would be a dish we put on recently, the Berkshire Lamb. Mainly because it comes from a very local butcher in the Home Counties literally just a few miles away.
It’s a really lovely spring time dish as it’s a marriage of classic flavours of peas, lamb, mint, onion.
The flavours really come together so well in the dish and it looks visually very pleasing.
We use the saddle and we slow roast the belly almost like you would with crispy pork.
The saddle is so juicy and forms the main part of the dish and just melts in the mouth.
*Dear reader, FT took the pictures above and then had the opportunity of eating the Berkshire lamb dish, is was delicious
Q: If you could invite any chef past or present to cook alongside you for one night who would that be and why?
A: It would definitely be from the present and it would be Tom Kitchin. He’s a chef that inspired me to come into cooking. I love his whole ethos of what to put on the plate, I have all his cook books and have been to The Kitchin and his other restaurants several times. I love it I think his food is stunning, it’s simple but its delicious.
…..And now your two (or more) Favourite Tables, restaurant that you dine at perhaps with family or friends. Places you have visited a couple of times.
My first favourite restaurant would be: Mangal II in Islington, London. Its run by two brothers, Ferhat & Sertaç Dirik who serve some amazing Turkish dishes in their own style. I’ve been going here for about 4 years since I first came to London and fell in love with the place.
Address: 4 Stoke Newington Road
London, N16 7XN
Telephone number: 020 7254 7888
My second is: Chez Bruce in Wandsworth, London. It’s very “chefie” and was recommended to me by a head chef I once worked for. A lot of other chefs can also be seen there enjoying some great food.
Address: 2 Bellevue Road, Wandsworth Common, London SW17 7EG.
Tel: +44 (0)20 8672 0114 – email: email@example.com