Young And Fresh
PUBLISHED: 11:53 13 July 2009 | UPDATED: 15:29 20 February 2013
Jamie Watkiss is the 22-year-old chef at The Navigation Inn at Maesbury Marsh on the banks of the Montgomery Canal. He may be of tender years but Jamie has worked in a feast of kitchens including The Grosvenor and Upstairs At The Grill in Chester ...
Jamie Watkiss is the 22-year-old chef at The Navigation Inn at Maesbury Marsh on the banks of the Montgomery Canal. He may be of tender years but Jamie has worked in a feast of kitchens including The Grosvenor and Upstairs At The Grill in Chester and Sebastian's, Oswestry.
The Navigation sources much of its fresh, free-range foods locally in support of the farming community; stocks a range of traditional ales and its wines are selected and supplied by Tanners of Shrewsbury.
The Chef Bites Back
What is your earliest memory of food?
Making flapjacks with my Nan when I was about five-years-old. Every weekend we would make a cake of some sort.
Who influenced your decision to become a chef?
I knew from about the age of 13 that I wanted to be a chef. When I left school and went into my first proper kitchen, it was my first Head Chef, Mark Fisher from Sebastian's in Oswestry, who influenced me and showed me the standards of food that I wanted to cook.
What was the first dish you cooked?
The first dish I ever cooked was a classic French onion soup. It was amazing to me that something with so few ingredients and such simplicity can help you to understand more, learn how to be a proper chef and realise that it's not just about the finest ingredients.
What is your favourite ingredient?
Banana shallots - the sweetness of them when they are infused into any dish is immense, whether in good home cooking or restaurant food.
Where is your favourite restaurant?
The Navigation Inn, of course!
Which celebrity chef/s do you admire?
Gordon Ramsay is my role model and I would love to work for him some day. He has really opened people's eyes to food - brought back the Sunday roast, shown how to make fast, healthy food, and really made people aware of the value of seasonal produce.
Which nationality cooks the best food?
It has to be the French, followed by the Italians. The French have an understanding of where food types work with other food that most people would never dream of, and the effort and precision put into every dish is amazing. For the Italians, their ability to produce sensational simple and rustic food is inspirational.
What is your favourite piece of equipment?
My trusty Victronox serrated pastry knife - you can use it for anything.
What is the best meal you've ever cooked?
I love pork. The sweet flavour works so well with sweet ingredients such as apples, blackberries, blackcurrants and so on. Try it - cook tenderloin of pork with braised savoy cabbage, a pear tarte tatin and blackberry jus. The colours on the plate jump out at you and the combined flavours are unbelievable.
What is your signature dish?
Armagnac poached and caramelized pear, served in a filo pastry basket with butterscotch sauce.
Do you have a tip for a novice cook?
Never be afraid to season, but always make sure you taste the dish as you go.
What is your family's favourite meal?
The Sunday roast. I came from a big family where we all got together at the table for the Sunday meal.
Have you ever been injured in the kitchen?
If you play with fire, you are going to get burned!
Have you ever had any cooking disasters?
I once overcooked 50 crème brulées which took two hours to make. My Head Chef went mad!
Have you cooked for anyone famous?
I cooked for Gary Rhodes last year when he ate at Upstairs at the Grill in Chester where I was working at the time.
What would you choose for your last meal on earth?
My favourite dessert in the world - tiramisu.
The Navigation Inn
Oswestry, tel: 01691 672958