Chef of the Week: James Taylor, Head Chef at Paloma in Manchester

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I have been at Paloma for two months.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
As a family of butchers cooking has always been very important to us. My passion definitely came from my parents and grandparents. My skills have been picked over the years of working with some great chefs and constantly learning.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
I just love the adrenaline of service and the look on people faces when the eat what you have made.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Butter, onions & my trotter stock.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
A sharp knife. Well worth investing a few good quality knives and upgrade when you can.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Fermentation seems to be becoming more popular and can add really interesting flavours to dishes.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Not having enough prep ready, a smooth service is all about prep.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
I love spring, rhubarb and asparagus are two of my favourite ingredients.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
I have a put devilled kidneys on every menu I have written for the last five years, it’s just a great dish for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
One of my favourite Burns night dishes was some delightful haggis and whiskey wontons that we serve with a spiced plum sauce. They are delightful but it has been a starter and bar snack and  has been on the menu ever since.
I created a dessert using piccolo parsnips, which really divides people. It has ginger crumb, spiced cream, chocolate ‘soil’, lemon balm and poached parsnips. Served in a glass layered to look like a garden.

How do you come up with new dishes? How do you come up with new dishes?
I start with a seasonal ingredient, I then work from there looking at what flavours will taste best with it, I love mixing ingredients and techniques that people would not necessarily use together.

Who was your greatest influence? 
My dad, he taught me so much about meat and they are skills I use every day in the kitchen.

Tell us three chefs you admire.
Fergus Henderson, Marco Pierre White and Richard Corrigan.

What is your favourite cookbook?
My mum found my great grandmas handwritten recipe book amongst some old books when she was having a clear out.  It may not be the most up to date in the world, but some the recipes in it are amazing. Its not the newest, or the most expensive, but is my favourite.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
Nina Matsunaga. I used to do trade on farmers markets in the past and she has gone on to open The Black Bull in Cumbria, she is an amazing chef.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
I am very excited about Freight Island, the food offering is looking amazing.