Member of the Month June 2019: James Oakley

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 1st July 2019

Here at The Staff Canteen, we feature a different member every month who we think deserves to be celebrated - this month’s winner is James Oakley

As a regular contributor to The Staff Canteen website via the Chef+ app, James will win a copy of MiMi Aye's Mandalay: Recipes & Tales from a Burmese Kitchen and a mug from The Staff Canteen.

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Current place of work, position and a brief overview of where you have worked before

I am Chef De Cuisine of Alibi restaurant at Cordis Hotel, Hong Kong. 

I started working in kitchens part time at the age of 14. Aged 16, I left school to work at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's Hotel, then went on to receive most of my formal training under chef Jeremy Medley. 

I have held junior sous-chef positions at Michelin-starred Lords of the Manor under Matt Weedon. I was a sous under Richard Allen at Tassili restaurant when he gained his 1st Michelin star.

My first head chef position was at Llys Meddyg in Pembrokeshire, after which I went to Hong Kong as executive chef of Armani Aqua. Then, I was executive chef of the 5-star Pullman hotel in Phuket and chef de cuisine of Waterbiscuit Restaurant at the Intercontinental Hotel in Malta. 

What is your cooking style and what can people expect from the food on your menu?

My cooking style is modern international. My intention is to replicate my personality and life in food on the plate, I am well travelled therefore guests can expect flavours and techniques from the countries I have travelled to and worked in. 

What is your favourite dish to cook and why?

My favourite dish to cook changes everytime we change the menu. Currently my favourite dish is our peanut and truffle parfait. In the interest of being sustainable we have a large-number of plant-based dishes on our menu. This dish was very challenging to create and execute consistently - a 100% plant-based parfait with the same consistency and mouth feel of a foie gras parfait. 

Guilty pleasure name a food item / dish / ingredient that isn’t considered ‘cheffy’ but you love to eat

I love fried chicken, KFC is awesome. It is my once-a-week cheat meal. 

What are your plans for the future? 

I see my future being where I am in Alibi. I feel a strong connection to the restaurant - like I am part of it and it is part of me. My focus is to continuously improve, strive to be better tomorrow than we are today. As long as we can continue to improve, I will be  happy. 

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Has the stress of being a chef ever got to you and how did you overcome it? 

Previously, yes. Throughout my career there have been many highs and many lows. I think this is life in general, it is important not to quit. Whenever I find something hard or stressful, I remind myself that challenging and stressful situations improve us, we can learn from these challenges and prevent them in the future.

Do you want to be the next Member of the Month, a feature sponsored by Essential Cuisine? Download the Chef+ app  for free now and share your images, videos and recipes for a chance to win a goodie bag and The Staff Canteen mug! 

Please note that shipping fees outside of the UK will not be covered by Essential Cuisine. 

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 1st July 2019

Member of the Month June 2019: James Oakley