Chef Focus: James Nicklin, Winteringham Fields

February 26, 2024

We sat down with James Nicklin, the new Head Chef at the iconic Winteringham Fields, to find out about his culinary journey and to talk all things Japan!

SS: Tell us about your restaurant, how long it’s been running, and what the core concept is?

JL: So basically, Winteringham Fields has been a restaurant since 1988. Our concept is to source from the farm, local suppliers, and the best ingredients we can get our hands on. Unfortunately, there are no scallops in the River Humber! We keep things simple, we don’t overcomplicate, and make sure we hit the nail on the head with flavour!

SS: How long have you been a chef and where did it all start?

JL: So I started when I was 16 at college, working part-time alongside studying. Luckily for me, I had great tutors, and I had a load of terrible jobs to start. But I finally settled down at a pub in Walkington, Beverley called “The Dog & Duck,” a classic right there, smashing out a load of beef pies and mushy peas! Now I’m Head Chef at Winteringham Fields, with a Michelin star on the door. It's bonkers when I think about it!

SS: What are the biggest trends in the industry this year?

JL: I think it's calmed down a bit at the minute, I'm sure because of the season waiting for the next one to arrive! Last year, all I was seeing was Croustade, absolutely everywhere!

SS: How is your relationship with SushiSushi, and how long have you worked together?

JL: We have been working with SushiSushi now for around 3 years. We bumped into Stu at a Wellocks gig, and we have just built a relationship from there. We talk about everything from restaurants to cars. I know if I need anything, I can pick the phone up and either Stu or the guys can point me in the right direction or give me a better understanding of a product.

SS: What Japanese products do you currently use in your menu?

JL: We use all sorts for different reasons. For example, Tomooe Hokkaido Scallop Dashi, we use this to spike out scallop sauce! Then we use all the kombu’s, the dashi vinegars to add layers to recipes.

SS: If money were no object, what Japanese ingredient would you always have on the menu?

JL: It's got to be A5 Wagyu, hasn’t it? It suits our style of cooking. I have no idea what I would do with a black watermelon!

SS: How has using Japanese ingredients influenced your menu?

JL: I would say that it has enhanced recipes and brought more depth to them in terms of acidity rather than using citrus fruit. We use a vinegar variety because we can use Kombu as a stock base rather than veg & water for dietary requirements. The products we use are fantastic for seasonings & finishings, some dishes to give it that edge.

SS: If you could travel to Japan tomorrow just for food, what would be the top things you’d want to do or try?

JL: I would love to go eat at Restaurant Crony, Tokyo. The food that Michiro & his team are creating looks incredible, simple to look at, but you can tell it's packed full of flavour & the tekkers look insane also.

SS: Why do you think Japan is so admired in the West for its cuisine?

JL: I genuinely believe it's because they push boundaries for creating products, whether it's vinegars or snacking nori, sake or soy sauce. Also, the techniques in cooking & preserving.

SS: Sake or Beer?

JL: I’m a beer guy, I must admit. Sake is pretty new to my palate. I tried it around years ago, and it seems to be very current in the industry of late. Honestly, I find the whole process fascinating, but I’m all for Malting, Milling & Mashing!

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