Q&A with... JAMES RAY Head Chef at The Sun Inn
What was your first memory of your love for cooking?
My first memory of where my love for cooking originated was thoroughly enjoying watching my nan cook her famous Sunday lunch. She would sometimes let me chop the vegetables however, the kitchen was her territory! Her gravy was legendry. To this day, I have never had a Sunday lunch as delicious as my nan’s.
When did you know you wanted to be a chef?
My desire to be a chef possibly stemmed from the day I first stepped into a bustling restaurant kitchen as a pot washer at the age of 15. I fell in love with the comradery and the buzz of a busy kitchen and I progressed quite swiftly from the kitchen porter role to commis chef.
Where were you trained, and how difficult was your training?
In conjunction with that work experience, I applied for Western College where I completed my Level 1, 2 and 3 City and Guilds. I found the college environment refreshing; studying something which I felt passionate about with like-minded, ambitious and creative people. I developed a real love with fish and seafood dishes, as well as developing my knowledge of front of house and consolidating my understanding of the catering industry.
What do you love most about your job?
Teamwork is my greatest motivator. When you work in unison, and the kitchen flows, it is magic. Although there is consistent pressure to achieve perfection, daily, when you create something truly special it is incredibly rewarding. It really is the best feeling of total satisfaction when you successfully finish a busy service.
Describe your style in three words.
My style is modern English with an Asian twist. I love trying something different with classics in my menus and customers seem to love and appreciate it.
What’s your favourite dish to create?
My favourite dish to create is my Thai monkfish curry with tempura king prawn, crispy chilli squid, cashew and lemongrass crumb. Its combination of flavours works perfectly.
Where do you draw your creative inspiration from?
I get a lot of my inspiration from my travels. I was lucky enough to work in a Thai cookery school for 3 months in Chang Mai, Northern Thailand. I also spent 6 months working in an award-winning seafood restaurant in Adelaide, Australia.