Chef profile - James Hassall, Horsley Lodge Golf, Restaurant & Hotel
PUBLISHED: 00:00 15 July 2019
James Hassall, the Head Chef at Horsley Lodge Golf, Restaurant & Hotel lets us in on a few secrets.
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I always enjoyed art at school and went on to study Fine Art and Design at a London Art School before deciding I wanted to change and starting my career as a chef.
I think it must be the creative aspects of being a chef that have kept my passion and creativity flowing throughout my career. I have been working at venues in and around the Derbyshire area for over 20 years. However, I grew up at West Hallam, only a stone's throw away from Horsley Lodge, so coming to work here has certainly felt like coming back home.
How would you describe your approach to food?
I have always been enthusiastic about using the freshest ingredients possible and about creating dishes that highlight simple uncomplicated flavours that work well together and complement each other. I believe in producing honest, good quality food that people want and can enjoy with gusto.
Tell us about your menu?
In a few words: quality, simplicity, tasty, good value and local ingredients. Derbyshire has some amazing produce and we try to do it justice and show it at its best. Our local pork and beef are some of the best around. Our Ham Hock Terrine is wonderful!
Which dish on your menu would you most recommend?
This is a difficult one to answer as we cater for such a wide range: beautiful champagne breakfasts, Sunday lunches, vintage teas and Friday night themed evenings. My favourites change all the time.
Which ingredient could you not live without?
The simple onion. It's so versatile and is the base for so many dishes and sauces that it would be hard to live without it. I also love mushrooms - they are packed with nutrients and can help create so many different flavours and aromas.
What has been your most memorable meal?
Lobster cooked on a piece of corrugated iron over an open fire. It was on a Jamaican beach at midnight and the cook was a local fisherman.
What advice would you give to a novice?
It would be to enjoy cooking, to show enthusiasm and dedication, and always to consider your customers - what matters most is giving people an enjoyable and memorable meal. Also, pay attention to detail - no matter how small - and always produce your best. Never think, 'Well, that's OK', as it most certainly won't be.
Which chef is your greatest inspiration?
I have the greatest respect for the chefs who showed me the way when I started out, Mark Astbury (who's now head chef at a Marco Pierre White signature restaurant in Nottingham) and others.
What places in Derbyshire would you recommend as 'must visit'?
Hardwick Hall and The Hardwick Inn. Being able to walk in the park there or down by the fishing ponds was one of the reasons I chose to live near. I spend many hours there. u