Chef of the Week: James Baker, Chef Co-Proprietor of The Ginger Pig Kitchen in Weston-Super-Mare

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
The Ginger Pig Kitchen was launched at the beginning of 2020.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
I worked as an apprentice in Paris when I was 17 in Le Bushe. I came back to England and worked with a chef called Peter Sampson who inspired me to own my own restaurant.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
The freedom and passion to create new dishes and the reaction of our customers when it is presented.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Salt, Agar Agar and Eggs.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
The Thermomix.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
More menus with diet and allergy requirements.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Trying too hard and adding too much ingredients –  less is more!

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Autumn for the selection of meat and vegetables in season, warming food rich in flavours.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
On the current menu pork belly, but I am proud of a dish I created – soused mackerel, heritage beetroots, goats’ cheese & toasted nuts.

How do you come up with new dishes?
Research – going to restaurants, looking at ideas, then changing them to our style of cooking.

Who was your greatest influence?
Raymond Blanc.

Tell us three chefs you admire.
Raymond Blanc, Gordon Ramsay and Keith Floyd.

What is your favourite cookbook?
The Fat Duck by Heston Blumenthal.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months? ~
Elly Wentworth and Stu Deeley.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
The Angel in Dartmouth.