Holbeck Ghyll welcomes Jake Jones to the kitchen
PUBLISHED: 09:38 19 May 2017 | UPDATED: 15:39 19 May 2017
With an already successful career behind him, 26-year-old chef Jake Jones is now heading up the kitchen at Holbeck Ghyll. Mairead Mahon reports.
Jake Jones has the culinary world at his feet. Despite being just 26, he has been tipped as the chef to watch by those in the know. Not only was he a finalist in the Royal Academy Culinary Arts Young Chef of the Year; he has worked with some of the country’s top chefs in some of the most demanding kitchens.
He’s been head chef for James Martin at The Talbot in Malton. And now he is in the top spot at Windermere’s reputed Holbeck Ghyll County House Hotel, which is surrounded by some of the country’s best vistas. But there are still downsides.
‘I’m a city boy and I’m still coming to terms with the fact that all the local shops close at five,’ said Jake. ‘But it’s a tiny price, really. Anna, my partner, and I have just settled into a new home very close to Windermere, which is wonderful.
‘Besides, I am head chef at Holbeck Ghyll, which, let’s face it, is a massive honour. I absolutely love it. In fact, it’s such a glorious place that I persuaded my pastry chef, Anthony Johnson, to come with me. It’s good enough for Hollywood royalty like Renee Zellweger and it does have an international reputation.’
It was family tradition that first sparked his desire to work in the culinary trade. Both his dad and uncle are chefs – in his family it’s the men who usually do the cooking – and he was inspired by them. He is proud to have carried on the tradition and wears it as a badge of honour, even if his family do take credit for his recipes.
But who can blame them. Jake’s style is modern British and offers something new and exciting. But importantly, it’s delivered with real passion. It is little wonder the reviews are fantastic.
‘Great dishes are built on great ingredients and that is an area in which I would never countenance any compromise on,’ said Jake. ‘We have brilliant ingredients here, such as Cumbrian lamb right on our doorstep and I try to be as local as possible: Cumbrian spring lamb with wild asparagus is one of my local seasonal favourites.
‘We produce an exciting seven course taster menu, which will be an adventure through Lakeland’s finest produce with Shorthorn aged in its own fat with salsify, monk’s beard and miso butter. Sometimes though, if the best ingredients at a particular time of the year come from elsewhere in the UK, then I will have to cast my net wider.’
Two of Jake’s suppliers are foragers. The sustainability and ethics of food is an area he is very interested in. He keeps up to date with current information, like haddock now being off the sustainability list and he only ever uses ethical foie gras. The foragers subscribe to these principals too.
‘They supply me with many interesting things,’ said Jake. ‘Like a great selection of mushrooms and juniper berries and, in summer, gorgeous items such as sea beet. That’s a lovely coastal ingredient, a relative to our cultivated beets, and its oils and juices marry very well with fish.’
A new state of the art kitchen has recently been installed in the Holbeck Ghyll kitchen. It allows him to create dishes like his starter of Mayan Gold potatoes with mussel, caviar and dill.
‘Potatoes can be underrated but everyone who samples this dish is then very happy to reassess them,’ smiled Jake, who has also raised humble rhubarb to new heights by introducing it to liquid nitrogen.
His restaurant, The Oak Dining Room is a magnificent Arts and Crafts period room, where formal dining takes place. But there will be a newly renovated bar and dining area with a more relaxed style, completed with Cumbrian slate floors and tables made from pressed lamb’s wool.
‘How exciting is that,’ smiled Jake. ‘Another new development is that I’ll sometimes be serving my own food. I know that I’m lucky enough to have had wonderful reviews but it is going to be very special to actually meet and talk to the diners.
‘I’m not about to drop the plates though, at least I hope not! I’m really looking forward to it.’