Whatever you do, don’t serve the head chef and proprietor of Harborne Kitchen Jamie Desogus chunky carrots in a bolognese – he might just get all mardy and start banging pots and pans around!
Tell us about your cooking
Our style at Harborne Kitchen is best described as modern British. By that I mean that our food is based around a classical level of training but incorporates modern techniques. Cooking with the seasons is very important to me, if it grows in this country then we only use it in season, if something never grows in this country then the rule doesn’t apply – this helps a lot with desserts!
How did you become a chef?
I studied music production, so my cooking for a living is a happy accident. I worked part-time while studying and got some solid basic training from Kevin Wilde at La Brasserie in Kidderminster. I left to join a band in London – when that came to an end I thought let’s have a proper go in a kitchen and went to work at Petrus in London under Mark Askew. It was quite a shock to the system but it taught me a lot very quickly!
What do you eat when at home?
My wife Sophie does most of the cooking, I am a terrible home cook – I get all mardy and start banging pots and pans around at home. Sophie is a fabulous cook. She cooks with love and everything she touches seems to work! My favourite would be slow-cooked lamb shoulder with swede, turnips and kale.
Who’s the best chef in the world and why? And who’s the best in Brum?
Is there such a thing as the best chef? I wouldn’t like to pigeonhole any names into a certain category. Some of my biggest influences have changed over the years – right now I can’t see past the Roca brothers – so that’s two chefs I guess. I was lucky enough to eat at El Celler de Can Roca in Spain [one of the world’s top 50 best restaurants] last year. It was without doubt the best meal I have had – but the atmosphere played its part too. We’re lucky to have a great mix of fantastic chefs in Brum. If I want a great steak then I’ll go to Fiesta Del Asado, if I want decadence then I would go to Adam’s, if I want cutting edge then I would go to Carters.
Is the customer always right?
Yes – until they ask for salt.
Share a cooking tip
Brine your meats and fish – you will see a huge difference immediately.
What was your favourite food as a kid?
My nonna’s pasta. Culurgiones – a Sardinian flour pasta made with potato, garlic, pecorino and mint. Perfect potato puffs served with a pork rib and beef shin ragu. She made them on special occasions and would start at four in the morning just to get them done for up to 15 of us!
Food heaven and food hell?
Heaven is cheese – all of them! Hell is chunky carrots in a bolognese.
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten?
Cazu Marzu – it’s cheese from Sardinia, where I have some family. It translates to ‘rotten cheese’ which says it all. Despite the maggots, it is quite nice though!
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?
What do you recommend from this evening’s menu?
The fallow deer, with chocolate and our own coffee blend made by Quarter Horse coffee for us.
TRY JAMIE’S DUCK LIVER PARFAIT, YORKSHIRE RHUBARB, BUTTERMILK & CHAMOMILE
Ingredients (for the parfait):
- 400g Duck liver (pre soak in milk)
- 30ml brandy
- 75ml madeira
- 75ml port
- 100g diced shallot
- 1 garlic clove
- 5 free range eggs
- 400g unsalted butter (melted)
- Salt to taste
Preheat oven to 120. Reduce the madeira, brandy and port with the shallots and garlic until it is reduced by half which will remove the bitterness from the alcohol. Add the livers (no milk) into a blender and add one egg at a time for five minutes until smooth. Then add the melted butter a little at a time while still blending slowly. Taste the mixture (do not swallow) to correct seasoning. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve into a lined terrine mould and cover with foil, place into a deep oven tray and fill with warm water until two-thirds of the way up the terrine. Now cover the oven tray with foil too. Cook for 45 minutes and using a temperature probe check the temperature has reached above 70C for a minimum of two minutes. Then cool the terrine in an ice bath in the fridge – it is important to chill the terrine within 90 minutes. Serve with warm Brioche and poached Yorkshire rhubarb.