James Durrant - Adam Lynk Photography

James Durrant

You’ve recently become executive head chef at Bluebird—had you eaten there previously?

I ate here a long time ago, back in 2002 while I was working at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and living around the corner.

At what age did you realise you’d like to be a chef? Did you experiment with food as a child?

I was fortunate enough to grow up in Singapore and I think it was being exposed to so many flavours and food cultures at an early age that really gave me the bug. So from a reasonably young age I loved the idea of becoming a chef, but was warned off it by my parents. I started working in kitchens from the age of 16 but didn’t really put it into practice properly until I was 18.

What are your feelings toward west London?

West London’s a great place. For the first eight years I lived in and around Chelsea and Fulham, then later on moved a bit further south to Battersea.

You opened your own restaurant in Hampshire—do you miss it?

Of course I do—it’s probably every chef’s dream to open their own restaurant. I had four amazing years running it. Unfortunately though, there just wasn’t enough business to sustain it and we had to make the difficult decision to close and head back up to London.

You’ve worked at many impressive restaurants, including the three Michelin-starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s, as well as taking the position of head chef at Maze alongside Jason Atherton—what have these experiences taught you?

It’s hard work! It takes a huge amount of commitment and sacrifice to succeed in this industry. ​

Where do you live and why?

My wife, three children and I all live in Winchester, Hampshire. My son and daughters are both in great schools and we love the area so thought we would stay down that way and I would commute to London.

You made your Great British Menu debut in 2014, getting through to the final banquet. What is this event and why did you do it?

BBC 2 Great British Menu is a cooking competition that has been running for about the last 11 years now. I was asked to do it and thought it would be a great challenge and opportunity to promote my restaurant. I was lucky enough that the brief was really close to my heart and to win and cook at St Paul’s Cathedral for 60 D-Day veterans was an unforgettable experience.

Other than Bluebird, where are your favourite west London haunts?

I’m working on that one—I’ve been out of London for the last four years!

Working in kitchens is notoriously stressful—how do you wind down?

It certainly is! The motorbike ride home usually helps, and I’ve got three kids so they help me forget about work pretty quickly!

Where is your favourite place in the world?

Anywhere with my family! Being a chef, you don’t get much time with them so we try to make the most of the time we have together.

What is your favourite dish to prepare?

I don’t really have a favourite. I do like working with fish though!

What would you choose for your final supper?

That’s easy: fish, chips and mushy peas with a can of dandelion and burdock.

James Durrant is Executive Head Chef at Chelsea dining institution Bluebird; book via the website or on 020 7559 1000

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