There’s a new level of professionalism from chefs, mentors and restaurateurs. Gone are the days of an autocratic, old school brigade-style system and it's interesting to see. I’m not sure why that’s evolved and why we’re seeing this…
It’s simple. It all started 7, 8 years ago when the last batch of chefs went through those types of kitchens. Rivalry was immense and you had to be part of it. If you worked for Marco, everyone that worked at Nico’s (Chez Nico) was an enemy it was all very territorial. Where now this generation of cooks, the Sat Bains, Simon Rogans, Tom Kerridges, Marcus Wareings, Clare Smyths. You name all those top chefs and they’re all friends, everybody’s friends and we'll all do anything for each other. When Sat was raising money for his Hospitality Action trip to Nepal, even though he never succeeded, that was irrelevant. He just took the time off to do that, we all chucked a load of money in the pot to raise money for Hospitality Action, all from our own restaurants. That just shows the level of support and that would never have happened 20 years ago. Never, ever, ever! He would have been flying solo. But he had the support from all of us, because we’re all mates, we're all buddies and we all get on together. We also share ideas and I could call Sat up tomorrow and say, ‘hey Sat I’ve got a problem with my lemon tart, this is happening, what do you think?’ He’d say, ‘have you tried this, have you tried that?’ That would never have happened 20 years ago, no chance. They would have said, ‘fuck your lemon tart!’ Tom Kerridge, another one… I could be stuck on the motorway and he would leave in the middle of service to come and pick me up!
Lastly, what do you think has sparked the British food revolution over the last 10 years? Something has happened, undoubtedly and it's given us scope to open restaurants with international flavour, modern British cuisine has gone through the roof. What have you seen from your early career until now that’s made this happen?
In the old days, as a nation we took our produce for granted. We’ve produced good dairy, nice sheep, whatever. We get fresh fish whenever you want it and no one ever took it really seriously. I’ve literally travelled the world with my career and the produce we have here is the best in the world, I’ll tell you right now and I’ll stake my career on it. What we've got is some of the best produce on the planet. We’ve never, ever given our farmers, producers or any one of these people any credit. I could name 20 farmers off the top of my head, right now. 20 years ago when I started to cook, when I was a chef, you didn't know where your lamb came from, it was just lamb! We bought it from Fairfax Meadow the supplier, because he said it was good lamb. Whereas now, it's not about the guy who’s supplying it, we want to know the farmer. Now, all these guys are getting the credit they deserve… Using Johnny from Flying Fish for his day boat in Cornwall, he’ll only fish for so many restaurants because his fish is the best. I’ll call up Johnny and tell him I need some spanking red mullet for my new summer menu. He’ll say ‘OK Jason, how many do you need each day?’ I’ll let him know ‘I need 15 for Pollen Street hand picked by you, I don’t care how much they cost.’ Even if I’m away at one of the restaurants in Asia, I know I won’t get a call from one of the chefs to tell me that the fish is terrible because Johnny’s on it.