Top 5 British Ingredients James Knappett Can't Cook Without
For two-Michelin-starred chef James Knappett, cooking has always been a great passion. The British chef started his career attending Cambridgeshire Cater College, then worked at well-respected restaurants including Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, The Berkeley and The Ledbury. He soon founded his own restaurant, Kitchen Table. In July of 2021, the Fitzrovia restaurant reopened its counter-dining experiences with a theatre-styled kitchen and added to its fantastic wine selection thanks to co-founder and sommelier Sandia Chang. Here, Knappett shares with us his top five British ingredients he can’t cook without.
This British fruit is a favourite of mine! Damsons are similar to wild English plums and very native to the UK. It's important to remember that you cannot eat them raw and must cook them to become the delicious dishes they are served in. Normally, after cooking, we would make them into Damson cheese by an old technique from the 18th century. Whether it is a refreshing milk ice cream in the blazing summer or the warm game bird dish for the winter, Damsons cheese is perfect for all seasons and dishes!
Being one of my favourites since childhood, liquorice is a fond flavour of mine. It holds the nostalgic memories of my dad buying us sweets when we were growing up and I love that I can now use it in my own restaurant. With its intense flavour, we found it inspiriting to pair with all dishes. My personal favourites are liquorice and beet desserts, as well as liquorice and venison or duck.
Yoghurt is delicious by itself or with other ingredients, a treat any time of the year. It’s a great flavour carrier and extremely versatile – dip, sauce, and dessert… The acidity and freshness of yoghurt act as a smooth vehicle for so many dishes. From simply cooking it with some chicken from the barbecue to cooking it for our restaurant’s yoghurt mint and garlic with lamb.
Another favourite of mine from childhood that has become an ingredient I can’t cook without is mint. From salads to meat to sauces and desserts, jersey royals mint and butter impress me every time with its freshness and a level of complexity that elevates any sort of dish.
5. Game Birds
Winter is coming, and game birds are coming with it. For the main dish, I am always looking forward to it at the time of the year. It is a very exciting ingredient with a great diversity from a mellow pheasant to the intense grouse, and pigeon is one of my favourite proteins to eat.
Images provided by Kitchen Table.