James Golding, The Pig, Brockenhurst, Hampshire

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 19th June 2012

IN ASSOCIATION WITH

James Golding, head chef of The Pig, Hampshire, has a great respect for the environment and to animal welfare. He feels the responsibility to promote and protect the traditional foods of the UK. This means finding small producers and local butchers that work sustainably and have a passion for their products. He started his culinary career as a commis chef at The Savoy when he was a student on the specialised chef course. He spent three years at The Savoy mastering all areas and gaining a firm grasp on classical French cooking before gaining the role of chef de partie at Le Caprice, where he worked under Mark Hix and later Elliot Ketley. James was then placed in charge of the sixth floor restaurant at Soho House, New York. In 2006 he returned to the south coast to work as head chef at Harbour Heights in Sandbanks. In 2009 he started work at Whitley Ridge, which then became The Pig in 2011. His dishes are uncomplicated and simple British garden food, micro-seasonal and influenced by the forest and coast with the emphasis on fresh, clean flavours. James it’s great to come and see you. Give us an overview of The Pig in Brockenhurst please? The Pig is the first of a new breed of a boutique hotel within the New Forest; we pride ourselves on being a semi self-sufficient hotel. We focus on growing our own fruit and veg, obviously having our own livestock, chickens, we want people to come along and just feel relaxed in the environment that we're supplying. We believe that people shouldn’t have to pay the earth for a nice hotel in the country which I think in the past has been the trend and you tend to find with a lot of large country houses you end up paying a lot of money and we want to sit in that mid range bracket and offer a very high level of service and comfort but not breaking the bank. Give us a breakdown of the kitchen, how many boys have you got in the team? We operate our busy à la carte restaurant, we have the lounges and soon to be opening the wood fired oven. We do exclusive uses at The Pig. We don’t do large parties. We have a small private dining room here that seats 14. The kitchen itself is made up of 12 chefs but my chefs have to be quite savvy.  We focus very heavily on not just having ingredients brought in, but also it’s all about the chefs also going down to the garden, picking their mise en place for the day, bringing it back, preparing it. There's a lot involved in the whole position of being a chef within my kitchen. We've teamed up with a local butcher about two years ago, Mr Bartlett, and developed our own air-dried hams, coppas, chorizo, salami, is done in house. My boys go down to his butcher’s shop in New Milton as part of their training. Obviously we do our own smoking, smoked salmon, our hams from our pigs so there’s a lot of work. James that must generate huge interest from the boys in the team as well doesn’t it that diversity in their role. I think as a chef it’s very, very hard, to find places that are getting in whole fish or that have a butchery section. Perhaps in a very large hotel you have the luxury of that and the space. So for our chefs to see The Pigs be delivered, Pigs growing up, The Pigs going to slaughter (we take them to Laverstock Park for that) then coming back and being turned into lots of different things for the menu. With the pigs there's no point in us rearing a pig for eight months, turning it into sausages and cooking it all one day, we need that to last and go on, that’s why we've moved onto the cured meats, as obviously it gives a longer shelf life and we're able to showcase it on the menu for a lot longer. How have you evolved in the time that you've been here at The Pig? I think from the time I've been here the Pig has been everything that I've wanted to do. When I was in London you get so much experience and you’re exposed to so much variety often things you’ve never seen before. So when I got the opportunity to come to the Pig and be able to produce what we do,it just gives another dimension to the job and your development as a chef. What’s been your biggest challenge since you've been here at The Pig? I'd say staffing which I think is everybody’s problem at the moment. So how do you combat that? What do you put in place, you’ve got 12 boys in the kitchen how do you hold on to them?  Keeping the guys involved and interested in what you’re doing is important we have enough going on in the kitchen at the moment for the guys to really learn and see lots of exciting things. We make sure that the guys give as much input to the menus as we can. We run The Piggy Bits section on the top of the menu and we try and get the guys to put different bits on so it keeps them thinking. Training with our fish supplier, sending them down to our butcher, everybody in the kitchen gets involved in the curing processes and the smoking processes. So I think these are all skills that they wouldn’t necessarily learn elsewhere. I think as we’re getting a bigger name for ourselves and as The Pig is evolving it’s becoming a lot easier. We've found this time round it has eased but at the beginning when we opened it was quite tough especially being a new place, when you’re new people don’t know anything about you and it’s very hard to see or understand, your passion and philosophy. From what we've seen today you've very much got a garden to kitchen concept as much as you can, do you think that's the way food’s going? I think it’s the way food should be. Why? Because it’s all about the flavour, it’s all about the freshness, it’s all about knowing how your food has been grown. There's that age-old argument something that’s grown next to your doorstep as opposed to something that's flown over on a plane, it’s night and day in flavour. The Pig, this house would have functioned as we are functioning, The Pig would have had a kitchen garden, The Pig would have had livestock, they would have used the forest quite heavily to subsidise bits and pieces within their kitchen so I think we're bringing it back to the way it should be. I mean look at France these guys they’ve been doing it for yonks and we were doing it before the war but unfortunately a lot of the knowledge that we had in this country as far as growing and keeping livestock just sadly got lost And supermarkets came in didn’t they? Well exactly yes but you look at the people that came back from the war and look at the allotments that sprung up, I mean my great grandfather he had an allotment and he would spend his whole time growing veg. I'm older than you and I can remember digging potatoes and eating them from the garden but we've lost that. Exactly but because there wasn't that concentration of knowledge… And people work longer now… Exactly. …and the wife has a job and so on. But it became a lot easier to just go out and buy food and I think the more people that do it the more they’re going to understand why it’s good to do it yourself. Is this garden to plate concept in danger of it becoming a bandwagon though? I think that anything that’s done well is always probably a catch and there's those people that are going to think they can make money out of it. Last question for you then if I may, Savoy, Mark Hix, Soho House New York, FJB Hotels, great career, you’re now head chef, high profile operation here, but where is this part of your career going to take you in five years time? What’s the ultimate goal for you In five years time I'd still want to be a part of The Pig, I mean we're already looking at rolling out another couple of Pigs. …I think that so much of myself is in The Pig, Robin Hutson launched it, but obviously there's a group of people that have really poured their heart and soul into this and I think to just drop it and do something else would be crazy. I just want to show the country a piece of what we do and make it a complete success… Could that mature into a group role? I would hope so. Well listen thank you very much for seeing me, I wish you every success in the future. Thank you very much. It’s great to come down and talk to you. Thank you. Good to meet you.   Looking for a head chef job? Have a look at our vacancies on our jobs board

In these challenging times…

…the hospitality landscape has dramatically changed in the last two months, and with that our advertising revenues have all but expired, significantly impacting our business. Despite having to furlough a large portion of our staff, we are still delivering the valuable content and honest information, which hundreds of thousands of you come to The Staff Canteen for. We believe we have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs, are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector.

Your financial support means we remain independent and open to all. We were launched by a chef and remain the voice of chefs and other hospitality professionals.

We need your support to keep delivering the products and content that you love, giving you the platform to share opinions and inspiration. Every contribution whether big or small, means so much.
Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 19th June 2012

James Golding, The Pig, Brockenhurst, Hampshire

IN ASSOCIATION WITH