“A good cook cooks with confidence, and the skill and the flair will shine through. You’ve got to be a confident cook to fill in that form to enter the Roux Scholarship”
Chef and broadcaster James Martin has been a household name in Britain for more than 20 years. As host of his TV show Saturday with James Martin, and previously Saturday Kitchen as well as other shows such as James Martin’s Great British Adventure he is used to cooking under the gaze and scrutiny of millions of viewers. He is the chef at The Kitchen at Chewton Glen, and James Martin Manchester inside Manchester235 Casino.
James’s passion for food began at an early age when his father took the role of catering manager at the Castle Howard estate, a stately home in his native Yorkshire. Starting as a pot-washer at 12 years old, James then moved on minor tasks such as buttering bread and piping eclairs. Then at 13, a trip to the South of France with his father, who was importing St Emilion wines by HGV, gave him the opportunity to really experience good food and wine in some of the best wine chateaux in France, and from which moment he was hooked.
James did his formal catering training at Scarborough Technical College, during which time he was Student of the Year for three years running; he names his lecturer Ken Allanson as a key inspiration after he instilled in James the confidence and humility to succeed in the hospitality industry.
From there, he trained at Hostellerie De Plaisance, Saint-Émilion, France, and then at the three-star-Michelin star Maison Troisgros in Roanne, France. He then returned to London and joined the staff of Anthony Worrall Thompson's One Ninety Queen's Gate restaurant in Kensington pastry chef. His next moves saw him join the kitchen at Alastair Little in Soho, the two-star Michelin The Square in Mayfair, and another two-star Michelin star restaurant, Harvey's, in Wandsworth.
In 1993, he left London to spend two years as a pastry chef at Chewton Glen Hotel, in Hampshire, to which he would return later with his name over the door. Then, at the age of 21, James joined with Robin Hutson and the late Gérard Basset to open Hotel du Vin in Winchester, realising his dream to be a head chef eight years earlier than he expected to.
In 1996, James started his TV career with appearances on Sky One before moving on to Ready, Steady Cook and The Big Breakfast. From there, he didn’t look back; with countless TV series of his own, not to mention books and live appearances he has become a household name. He now fronts his own show Saturday Morning with James Martin, as well as appearances on This Morning and most recently he has been on the road for his four series James Martin’s Great British Adventure, James Martin’s French Adventure and James Martin’s American Adventure.
Using his renown, he champions British producers and chefs, as well as those in France and America. Using his extensive experience in busy restaurant kitchens, he has the rare skill of being able to make delicious, enticing dishes under the intense pressure of onlooking TV cameras, often in live broadcasts, while simultaneously interviewing guests and presenting the programme.
In 2013, he opened James Martin Manchester based in the Manchester235 casino at the Great Northern Warehouse. Providing modern British cuisine in industrial chic surroundings it was listed in The Sunday Times Top 100 UK Restaurants for 2015/16.
In 2017, James joined forces with The Kitchen Cookery School and restaurant Chewton Glen to offer a range of inspiring classes and seasonal menus in the restaurant, cooking there regularly. He also has a number of premium cafés, called James Martin Kitchen, set in Stansted Airport, inside Debenhams at intu Lakeside, Manchester Piccadilly train station and at Glasgow Airport.
James joined the competition as a judge in 2013, the Roux Scholarship’s 30th anniversary year, when the competition was filmed as a TV series and has remained on the panel ever since.