HomeChef InterviewsMeet The Chef: Jim Abbot We spoke with Jim Abbot, recently appointed Head Chef at Wright Brothers Soho to learn more about his exciting new dishes, favourite flavours and why he can never turn down a buttery midnight crumpet… What inspired you to become a chef? My nana was a head school cook for many years. I spent a lot of time at her house from a young age and we would always bake treats or make pies, it was classic home cooking. Tell us more about your culinary background… It’s been a mixed bag. I started at 2/3 rosette country house hotels when I was younger, which taught me key organisational skills and discipline. It was during this time that I also learnt about what ingredients work with each other. I then spent five years in Leeds with ‘Individual Restaurant Company’, a big restaurant with over 500 covers a day with all food freshly prepared on site. I then met Mr Mark Hix and Kevin Grattan and joined the Hix empire. My experience with Hix was invaluable, he taught me a lot about British ingredients and provenance. He also instilled in me that a dish doesn’t have to have eight different components to be delicious; it opened my eyes to a lot and made me think harder about the taste of dishes. What has been the proudest moment in your career? This is easy – a couple of years ago I got asked to go to Los Angeles with Mark Hix and Ronnie Murray to represent the British Masters dinner. It was five British chefs, including Bryn Williams, Dan Doherty, Skye Gyngell, and James Lowe, cooking for 300 guests, with each guest chef preparing a select course. The whole week was a mind blowing experience; it was absolutely amazing to be part of. If you weren’t a chef, which career would you like to pursue? I’m a huge dog lover. When you have your career chat at school at 15 I looked into being a police dog handler! I think that would have been a really cool job. What is your favourite midnight snack? It has to be hot crumpets, with LOADS of butter and marmite. Ultimate comfort food. What can guests expect from the new menu? The fresh fish and seafood offering will be a key focus. Wright Brothers supply stunning fish and I want to add seasonal ingredients which will complement the dishes. I plan to add twists to the classics, but I won’t say too much… you’ll have to come and try it for yourselves! Do you have any tips for aspiring chefs? Yes, listen, carry a note book, and learn as much as you can as early as you can… and don’t give up even when times get tough. How would you describe your style of cooking? I love the classics, but I like to add a twist to dishes. I love to cook with different techniques and use the best seasonal ingredients. What provides you with inspiration for the dishes on the menu? I like to eat out with my girlfriend – we both have an ever growing list of restaurants that we would love to go to. When I see a good dish (or even a bad dish), I’m always thinking of how I can make it better. I also have a little book at home in case I see anything on the TV that I think that might work, and of course I own a big collection of cook books. Do you have any role models? My old executive chef for IRC, Chris Maycock. The way he worked in the kitchen and managed to have every single chef from 20+ restaurants behind him was incredible. The truth is anyone can be taught how to cook, but to have people skills like Chris is an achievement in itself. He taught me a lot about how to get the best out of people which is a great skill to have. What food takes you back to childhood? We have a family classic – my mum’s cheese and potato pie was the ultimate best with tomato sauce – that dish is the only thing I’ll add tomato sauce to; being a northerner it’s always been brown sauce, of course! PLUS: Click here for even more chef interviews.