Gordon Jones, Chef Patron, Menu Gordon Jones

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 12th July 2016

Gordon Jones is the chef patron of Menu Gordon Jones in Bath. During his career Gordon has worked for a number of renowned chefs such as Martin Wishart and Martin Blunos. After becoming the youngest chef of a five star Relais & Chateaux hotel whilst at the Royal Crescent Hotel, Gordon went on to take charge of the Green Room Restaurant at The Green House in Bournemouth before deciding to pursue his own venture.

When The Staff Canteen caught up with Gordon we found out why he doesn’t have a menu and why he thinks chefs who change their menus every three years are boring.

CONFIT CHICKEN WINGS AND HEARTS, DEHYDRATED CHICKEN SKIN, CURRIED SWEDE PUREE, PURPLE POTATOES

Confit chicken wings and

hearts, dehydrated chicken skin, curried

swede puree, purple potatoes

What made you want to become a chef?

I don’t really know, I loved eating when I was younger and would always cook with my mum. I think there are loads of random pictures of me eating raw potatoes. When I was really young I used to steal sausages from the fridge so I think food has always been a part of something that I have always done. When I left school I became a kitchen porter and from there it was just a natural progression.

As a kitchen porter at a local Indian restaurant I started chopping and realised I was quite good at it and I got another job at a hotel where I got more and more things to do and cook. Cooking is something that I really enjoy and I’m good at it, and it seemed like a good way of making money.

Did you always want your own restaurant in and around the Bath area?

It’s funny doing cooking jobs because you move from random jobs-to-jobs. Ideally I wanted to work in a Michelin starred restaurant in Edinburgh so when I went to Birmingham college of food I got a chance to go on work experience which is a great way to find a place that you want to go to and start your career.

I wanted to go to Edinburgh and found out that Martin Wishart was the only restaurant with a star so I went there but, before then I also got work experience with Martin Blunos at Blinis in Bath, I did a day there and then went up to Scotland to work with Martin, got offered a job and started working there. Randomly, he (Martin Blunos) called up the Martin Wishart’s and asked if I would like to come down for an interview.  So I left and came down to Bath and that’s how I ended up in Bath but I have always wanted to own my own restaurant.

You have won numerous awards over the past couple of years, how do you think you stand out from your competitors?

Constantly change and never rely on tourists, it’s a fickle market and so many places keep the venue the same, someone new comes along, they do the same thing every year and it’s just a well-oiled machine. That for me is so bloody boring so I have to change things because I’m a creative person. The main thing that makes us stand out is the fact that I have a stupid consciousness where I think if I keep serving people the same food I would feel like I was cheating them.

If I had a Michelin star and kept the same menu doing the same bloody classics year after year you feel like you’re cheating people because the customer wants to see something new and exciting and being a place where people may only visit once I just want to provide something different. I want to change and be better and improve and that’s why I think I stand out because I want to be better than everyone else. We have come from a shitty little restaurant on the corner of a road in Bath in a weird location and it’s nice to know we can compete with other civilian-ised restaurants because we’re passionate and that’s what makes us different. 

As I don’t have a menu I get to serve guests loads of stuff like cod tongues and snail’s eggs and things they would never ever choose off of a menu. By the time you serve it to them you try and make it sound really disgusting so by the time they eat it they’re like ‘fucking hell’ that was amazing! It’s funny because you really can change people’s dining experiences and make it a little bit more theatrical.

5 favourite ingredients:

Coriander is my first and raw is the best way

Wild Salmon and again raw with salt, lemon and wasabi

Golden raisins and I love to soak them so they are swollen then blitz into a puree with hazelnut oil

Potatoes, well what can I say !!!! I love Tatties in all forms apart from raw surprise, surprise. 

Last but not least the one and only Maldon sea salt which I like to put it in everything sometimes even my desserts.

Who has inspires you?

I try not to pay attention to anyone else because you can’t reinvent food, you can never re-invent the bloody wheel. If you are dry of inspiration people go and steal other ideas but if I stay in my own little bubble here and don’t pay any attention to anyone else and just try and create things then I just keep myself as my main inspiration. I want to pay my mortgage, I want to look after my little one that’s just been born so really you have to be self-motivated rather than look up to other chefs. But I will say one chef, Steven Blake, former head chef at the Royal Crescent Hotel, he was an old fashioned chef from London and it’s always nice working with old fashioned chefs.

They can tell good stories and what happened in the past that we can’t up to do nowadays. He was a very clever man with his age and influence on food and he was doing stuff for years. He was doing very cool fusion food with Asian and British food but people didn’t understand it and he never got the recognition he deserved which is such a shame because lots of other people have got recognition but not done what he has done. So I would say Steven Blake who was my old executive chef because he was a forward thinker when it came to food. 

On your website it says that the menus can change daily, with that in mind how often do you actively look to do a complete overhaul of the menu?

Gordon Jones

 

I change the menu every single week, I don’t want to be one of those chefs that changes it three times a year with the same boring shit every single day. That’s too easy and that’s when I would start drinking too much and drinking too much, doing drugs and gambling, and end up throwing your money away. It’s good to stay on it and keep yourself focused.

My butcher will send over a tray of meat on a Tuesday which might include duck legs, rabbit loins, chicken hearts, etc. and I just cook something up from that and carry it on through the week. So it’s just a real organic, creative process. My suppliers help me massively because it pays for them to send me stuff that someone has over rdered or doesn’t need because they need to get rid of it and I’m one of those that really doesn’t mind not knowing what I’ll be getting because it keeps me interesting.

Can you tell me more about your surprise menu, how does this differ from other restaurants tasting menus?

Being a chef is a business and there are far too many chefs that don’t own their own business and work in hotels so they don’t necessarily have to make money because they get paid a salary. I have such a small kitchen so I couldn’t have a proper menu for people to choose from because stuff would be sitting about and I don’t have the space. The simplest solution was to have one menu and how do you get people through the door because they look at it and go ‘I don’t like that so I won’t go in’, so we thought, fuck it, let’s do a surprise menu.

I used to do a two one two one two so you had a choice of your starter, dessert and main course and then you had two set courses in between but that was when it was literally only me in the kitchen and one front of house so in the end I had to apologise to people because I couldn’t do it all and had to say sorry today it’s going to be a surprise and after a week I thought fucking hell this could be a good idea. So we put a little article in the local magazine saying ‘let the chef surprise you’ and people really bought into it so it turned into the only menu I did and it means I have no wastage and I know exactly how many

Set custard of jerusalem

artichokes, gariguette strawberries, strawberry

macaron

people I am going to cook for, it’s a very economical way of running a business.

How would you describe your food style?

Influences from the common wealth, my first job was as a kitchen porter in an Indian restaurant and I love Indian food. The Chinese are also super clever and I love the way they are so efficient and innovative so I love that side of Asian and Chinese food. I don’t think I would ever restrict myself and say I only cook British style food because this morning I feel fucking starving and I might fancy some guacamole with refried beans and smoked cheese with a bit of crispy beef so if I was open at lunch time today I might do a Mexican theme so it all depends on how I feel really. I literally cook whatever I feel like I want to eat.

What is your favourite food season?

English asparagus was here in February and Jersey royals were here too so really the seasons have gone so wrong to the point that there isn’t really a season anymore. Suppliers are constantly lying about where they get stuff from and pretend it’s local when it’s not friggin’ local. The fact of the matter is I don’t really mind where it comes from or how much it costs, if it’s the best and it tastes good then I’ll buy it.

Do you have a favourite dish or one that has been on the menu since you first opened?

I have a few dishes that I will always do on special occasions like New Year’s Eve or if we do a special menu, chocolate banana and foie gras is one that I love and I know foie gras is a bit of a taboo subject but they have been doing it for thousands of years and if you buy it from an ethical person then they do generally look after that animal and it’s only a short process. So it’s Nutella style chocolate spread and banana bread and pan fried foie gras with a bitter leaf salad and smoky bacon which is really sickly sweet with the chocolate and banana with the rich foie gras and bacon. It really sums up what I tend to do with sweet and sour flavours. The other one I do a lot is veal heart with crispy collagen and tomato ice cream.

 

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 12th July 2016

Gordon Jones, Chef Patron, Menu Gordon Jones