James Coe, our Hospitality Sous Chef at a prestigious city law firm, has succeeded in reaching the final, televised stages of the BBC’s flagship cooking competition. After completing the skills test and a technical test, for which James was set the task of cooking his signature dish, we’re delighted that he is through to the next stage. Please do tune in to BBC2 on 14th November at 8pm to see how he fares in front of the scrutiny of the judges.
In the meantime, we took a trip to James's kitchen to ask him to tell us more about himself and his MasterChef experience:
Q What prompted you to enter MasterChef: The Professionals
A I always have had a real passion for cookery and after entering the Roux Scholarship and then helping Nick Smith (Hospitality Head Chef) with the National Chef of the Year Competition I got the bug for competing and just wanted to test myself and take myself outside of my comfort zone.
Q Tell us more about your Signature Dish
A It was a take on a minestrone, using cod and the roe to add a twist to the dish. The dish itself is full of big bold flavours and I used ingredients that were fully seasonal at the time of filming, it's also food that I enjoy to eat.
Q Tell us more about your career prior to joining Vacherin
A I started out training at Westminster Kingsway College in London and completed a 3 year professional chef diploma. After that I was very lucky to work in a couple of 2 Michelin starred restaurants, Le Gavroche and Petrus when it had its 2 stars. At both restaurants I gained valuable training and knowledge. I then worked for the five star Grove Hotel in Watford, cooking in the Colette’s restaurant kitchen which held 3 AA rosettes.
I felt it was then time to return to London and I worked at the Thomas Cubitt a pub/fine dining restaurant in Belgravia where we service a fine dining restaurant, bar food and events to a high-end clientele. After my time there I met Al (Vacherin Executive Chef) and have worked with him for 5 years, honing my skills and cooking in hospitality kitchens for Vacherin.
Q Who inspires/influences your cooking?
A I have a few food heroes who inspire me. They are Jason Atherton, Sat Bains and Raymond Blanc but also I am so lucky to have such a talented Head Chef and Exec Chef in Nick and Al. We have something as chefs that's very special – we share the same passion and drive. I love sitting down with them and talking food. We lose hours coming up with new inspirations and dishes!
Q Are you tempted to enter any other culinary competitions?
A I am always looking at the next competition that I could enter; for me it's going to be Hotelympia but hopefully the British Culinary Federation’s Chef of the Year or National Chef of the Year 2020 will both be competitions I'll be entering in in the near future.
Q Any other passions apart from food?
A Outside of work you will find me either eating out or on the golf course trying to refine my golf swing!