Welcome to "Mise en Place" – a series dedicated to telling Chef stories. Mise en place is French for "putting in place", and it is what chefs do every day in the kitchen... but how did they get there? What are the experiences, tastes, and moments that put a chef in their culinary place? That's what we'll uncover together through "Mise en Place".
Chef James Cochran
Meet Chef James Cochran, one of London’s most talented chefs. Few are able to incorporate London's incredible diversity into imaginative cooking quite like Chef Cochran.
After honing his skills at two-Michelin-starred restaurant The Ledbury and Michelin-starred gastropub The Hardwood Arms, James opened his signature restaurant 12:51 in Islington, North London. A winner of the prestigious Eater London Chef of The Year, James also runs Around the Cluck offering a gourmet twist on the classic fried chicken takeaway.
His accomplishments range from delivering both Google’s Annual Dinner and Burberry’s LFW Dinner to winning the BBC's Great British Menu (twice) and he's just getting started!
We had the privilege to speak with Chef James Cochran and learn about the experiences that have shaped his culinary style and lead to his accomplishments.
What originally brought you into the kitchen?
It was my mum for sure! I was pressured from an early age to decide on my career by my dad. I used to cook a lot during the summer holidays with my mum, and that sparked my drive and passion.
What is your favourite cooking memory from growing up?
Wheelers Oyster Bar, the first restaurant I worked at.
What is one of your all-time favourite dining experiences?
It would have to be Geranium in Copenhagen which was voted best restaurant in the world in 2022. I went there for my birthday a few years ago, and you can really understand why it’s the best. The attention to detail from the minute you arrive to when you leave is unforgettable.
The cooking world is so demanding. As a cook, what makes you feel supported in big or small ways?
Nothing is impossible. If you want something in life, and you believe in yourself, you can get it. But hard work is key. I keep to myself, to be honest.
What do you love most about the London food & beverage scene?
It never stops evolving. The food scene is the Mecca of the world. And we know how to produce a good pub in the UK, it’s English heritage!
What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
Loads to be proud of:
The Burberry closing party
Winning ‘Great British Menu’
Named ‘Best Restaurant’ by Fay Maschalar
My restaurants ‘12:51’ and ‘Around the Cluck’
My own ‘Scotch Bonnet Chilli Jam’ that’s sold nationwide in Sainsbury
Working at a top 10 best restaurant in the world and I’m only just getting warmed up!
In your words, what makes an excellent knife?
Craftsmanship - I’m a strong believer in always trying to improve and be better.
What's your favourite type of knife to use?
WÜSTHOF, I’ve been using them since day one!
Chef Cochran is currently using the WÜSTHOF Classic Series