21 May 2018

Q & A with James Mortimer

How long have you been cooking and what made you decide to be a chef?

I remember as a small child my late father being the influence in my life to become a chef, he was the chef at the prestigious Savoy before I were born. I remember being put on the kitchen worktop whilst being very small and watching all of the things he would create; these memories were ignited when he passed away before I left school.On and off for my entire working life I have gone and come back to being a chef, moving away to fulfil my childhood dream of becoming a firefighter. After five and a half years though I needed to get back into a kitchen professionally.


Can you talk us through your style of cooking?

My style of cooking is quite diverse really, I have been classically trained at city college, this is a great foundation for any chef. I find food trends vary so much these days as do people’s taste buds and comforts. The style my team and I use at the Marsham Arms is simple though, bring the best that we have on offer in our beautiful county and deliver it to a customer and make them smile. Simple food done well never fails! Food is constantly evolving and we are too! Social media is a great tool for seeing what other chefs who are really pushing the boundaries are doing, with access to some of the greatest chefs in the worlds recipes at your fingertips it enables you to recreate and place your own style on new and exciting flavours and techniques.


Which chef has influenced you most during your career?

There are lots of chefs who have inspired me in┬ámy career, Tom kitchen’s ethos and approach to food is an ethos I teach my team and use in my kitchen, use everything and waste nothing. I believe there is a use for everything. Tom Aikenswas and still is also another influence along with Pierre Koffmann , Alain ducasse, the Roux family and Tom Kerridge. If I’m honest I take inspiration not just from famous chefs but my team, my family and friends, regardless of profession everyone has that one dish that they make that no one else does for their friends and family and it’s nothing you would make yourself, once you’ve eaten it though it secretly makes think of how you can adapt it and make it better and deliver to your customers.


What are your favourite garnishes to use when plating up?

My favourite garnishes to use come in all different shapes and sizes now thanks to Nurtured in Norfolk, from pea shoots which give you a dainty, frilly freshness which will accompany almost any dish and fit well, to the more peppery leaves of nasturtium.

Red amaranth and micro basil play a large part in most of the dishes we serve as they not only visually enhance our dishes but the intense flavour that these micro herbs provide add a great balance and freshness, all of the micro herbs we use on our dishes compliments the flavours of the dish as a whole, everything plays its part on the plate.


What is your favourite product to work with?

I get asked quite often about what my favourite product is to work with. I like using anything local and fresh I have a firm passion for using fish but equally I love nothing more than getting a whole animal to break down and work with in the kitchen. There are so many versatile and great ingredients from Norfolk, beautiful vegetables great seafood and amazing meat, not forgetting local artisan cheeses, bread, honey the list is endless. Simple answer – anything local and of great quality.


What does the future hold for you as a chef, what is your ambition?

I think my future as a chef is very clear cut, keep pushing, keep learning, keep evolving and just enjoying what I do. I’m soon to become a father to my first child with my beautiful wife who is also the general manager of the Marsham arms, so some time off is inevitable but I know I will need to be back in the kitchen before too long. My overall ambition is to one day own my own restaurant and create a future for my children, hopefully I can see this through to fruition, for now I am happy where I am and will continue to enjoying working as part of a great team and for a fantastic family run establishment.