This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
CELEBRITY CHEF


A


s chef Jason Atherton chats about his extraordinary career over a sausage sandwich at his favourite cafe in Balham, south-west London, it’s not hard to imagine him as a slight, pale-faced 17-year-old leaving his home town


of Skegness and going to London to work under a succession of tyrannical chefs. Now 38 and in the process of setting up his own restaurant, Pollen Street Social in London’s Mayfair, he still has a hint of vulnerability about him. It’s been a rags-to-riches life. When Jason was three his mother


packed up the car, taking him and his sister to a caravan site in Skegness for what he thought was a holiday. The reality was Jason’s parents had separated and he spent three years living in a cramped caravan behind a pub, battling cold winters. “There was no central heating or luxuries,”


critic calling him “the hottest chef since Gary Rhodes”. In 1998 he backpacked to Spain to work at Ferran Adrià’s three-Michelin-star elBulli. “I spent the first night on the beach then went begging for a job,” Jason recalls. “I said I’d do anything and work for nothing. So they took me on for the summer. I learned so much.” Jason’s love of Spanish food came into play back in London,


where he spent a decade running Spanish-style Maze restaurant, and a string of others, for Gordon Ramsay – with whom he’d first worked at Marco Pierre White’s Harvey’s. Now Michelin star-holder Jason is treading


NAME ABOVE THE DOOR. I JUST WANTED TO FEEL


‘LEAVING MAZE WASN’T ABOUT PUTTING MY


recalls Jason, who now lives with his wife and two young children in a stylish house near Clapham Common. “The only way to watch our old black-and-white TV was to wait for Mum to come home from work with the car and power it with the cigarette lighter. We had cold showers and baths. But we were okay.” At 15 Jason, who says he spent too much time as the class clown


I’D FULFILLED WHAT I’D PROMISED MYSELF’


to get good grades, was given two options by the careers advisor. “He said you either become a chef or a labourer, so I joined the army as a cook – and hated it,” he says. “I quit after four months and got a job at what was then the best hotel in Skegness. Then I realised if I really wanted to cook properly I needed to go to London.” Jason then worked under legends Pierre Koffmann, Nico Ladenis


and Marco Pierre White and, at 25, moved to Manchester where he became head chef at Oliver Peyton’s Mash and Air, with one


his own path. “People ask if there is animosity between us,” Jason says. “Gordon was annoyed when I left. He was a mentor and a teacher; we knew each other for a long time. But I hope he understands I want to create something for my family. He has a wonderful life and riches beyond most people’s dreams while I still get the tube to work and my family and I watch our pennies when we go on holiday.


“My leaving wasn’t about putting my name above the door. I just


wanted to feel I’d fulfilled everything I promised myself I would.” Pollen Street Social, due to open early next year, will have an


informal atmosphere and fresh British produce with a Spanish twist. “Dishes will include Tamworth suckling pig, Angus steaks, fresh fish from Cornwall and oysters from Norfolk,” says Jason. “We’ll have a forager who will bring in our wild plants and fungi; I can’t wait.” Jason is excited about pouring his expertise – not to mention his


own money – into the venture. “If you don’t take risks, you don’t get anywhere and I have faith in what I do,” he says. “I sincerely hope Pollen Street Social will signify a new, more relaxed era in fine dining.” Turn the page for two of his Spanish-inspired dishes…


HC 147


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92  |  Page 93  |  Page 94  |  Page 95  |  Page 96  |  Page 97  |  Page 98  |  Page 99  |  Page 100  |  Page 101  |  Page 102  |  Page 103  |  Page 104  |  Page 105  |  Page 106  |  Page 107  |  Page 108  |  Page 109  |  Page 110  |  Page 111  |  Page 112  |  Page 113  |  Page 114  |  Page 115  |  Page 116  |  Page 117  |  Page 118  |  Page 119  |  Page 120  |  Page 121  |  Page 122  |  Page 123  |  Page 124  |  Page 125  |  Page 126  |  Page 127  |  Page 128  |  Page 129  |  Page 130  |  Page 131  |  Page 132  |  Page 133  |  Page 134  |  Page 135  |  Page 136  |  Page 137  |  Page 138  |  Page 139  |  Page 140  |  Page 141  |  Page 142  |  Page 143  |  Page 144  |  Page 145  |  Page 146  |  Page 147  |  Page 148  |  Page 149  |  Page 150  |  Page 151  |  Page 152  |  Page 153  |  Page 154  |  Page 155  |  Page 156  |  Page 157  |  Page 158  |  Page 159  |  Page 160  |  Page 161  |  Page 162  |  Page 163  |  Page 164