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Chefs Get Personal

31 Aug 2021

an interview with Jamie Park

Chef Name: Jamie Park

Age: 30

Title: Group Head Chef

Awards: Masterchef Professionals Finalist 2017

How old were you when you started cooking professionally? 

I finished my NVQ level 3 at Hull College when I was 18 and went straight into my first professional job at Le Gavroche.

What’s your earliest and fondest first memory of food? 

My earliest memory would probably be in the kitchen at my grandma’s. She grew her own potatoes and you could smell them cooking in a pot with mint from the moment you pulled up. The smell now reminds me of walking up that garden path, every time.

Which chefs inspire you most and why? 

Dan Barber is an incredible chef, farmer and environmentalist and I’ve read everything he has written and follow him and his restaurants closely on social media.
Closer to home, I would say Doug McMaster – what he started in Brighton and recently brought to London is hugely inspirational and I believe he is light-years ahead in terms of the way restaurants will have to responsibly operate in the future.

What are your two favourite cookbooks and why? 

On Vegetables by Jeremy Fox, it’s a vegetarian cookbook without being a vegetarian cookbook, all the recipes work and are super delicious.

The second is The Pastry Chef’s Guide by Ravneet Gill. I’m at a total loss when it comes to baking and pastry but during lockdown I made tons of the perfectly-developed recipes in this book and reaped the rewards, you should buy it.

Which two ingredients could you not live without?

Salt. I like Cornish sea salt as it has a very unique flavour profile and the right seasoning can make or break a dish. The second isn’t a specific ingredient but something that can be found in all sorts of places – it’s ‘acidity’. Adding acidity to a dish right at the end just lifts everything, the flavour and aroma are intensified, I love it.

What is your favourite comfort food to cook at home?

Buckwheat soba noodles, I love them hot in miso broths with lots of spice on colder days and on hotter days dressed up and served really chilled down as a delicious noodle salad – super fast and versatile.

If you could eat at any Michelin star restaurant in the world today, where would it be and why? 

Blue Hill at Stone Barns, so I could be fully immersed in their practices and farming, and then of course enjoying the food after having seen where everything comes from would be amazing.

And who would you take as your guest?

Adam Handling so I could try and convince him to get us a farm.

What do you look for in a good chef?

In the early stages – good time-keeping is very important, being well equipped and organised, and ready to work. A chef who constantly has a note pad and pencil nearby.

What advice would you give to chefs starting their career paths now? 

Be on time, ready and willing to work, keep an open mind, focus on personal development – have projects and targets. Look after your mind and body. Rest.

How has the pandemic affected your restaurant? And how did you adapt and evolve throughout?

Obviously all the restaurants had to close; one of them permanently. We created an amazing home-delivery service and can’t wait to come back bigger and better

Can you share any wisdom from the experience so far with others? Have you changed? Has your cooking changed?

We learned a lot quickly and adapted our style of food and service, turning into an incredible home-delivery service and leader in a market that was alien to us 12 months ago. With a great team, anything is possible.

Jamie Park is head chef of Ugly Butterfly Restaurant (part of the Adam Handling Group)

Website: www.uglybutterfly.co.uk

Address: Carbis Bay, St Ives, Cornwall.

Instagram: @jamie_park1 & @uglybutterflybyah

Twitter: @Jamie_Park90

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