James Cochran is undeniably one of the country’s most exciting chefs and a brilliant representation of the huge variety of different cuisines on offer in London.
Born in Whitstable, on the Kent coast, Cochran was inspired from a young age by the the different cookery styles of his parents. His father would cook traditional Scottish dishes for the family, while his mother’s Caribbean heritage meant that there was often West Indian food on offer too.
Having learnt cookery skills by watching his parents, at the age of just fourteen Cochran began working in a professional kitchen for the first time. After initially just washing dishes at Whitstable restaurant Wheelers Oyster Bar, he worked his way up through the ranks in the kitchen and discovered his love for seafood. After a brief stint working as a chef at the then Michelin-starred Read’s in nearby Faversham, Cochran decided he needed to move to London to take his career to the next level.
He quickly was given a trial in Brett Graham’s Michelin-starred kitchen at The Ledbury which led to Graham mentoring Cochran for the next nine years, moving from The Ledbury to The Harwood Arms in Fulham after five years. It was during this period that Cochran began to really discover his own experimental style of cookery.
In 2016, Cochran began to oversee the kitchen at James Cochran EC3 where he soon garnered a huge amount of praise from critics for his refined cookery. After appearing on Great British Menu on 2018 and being crowned the champion of champions for his mushroom-based starter, Cochran was thrust further into the limelight.
Despite a much-publicised legal battle which saw Cochran leave his Liverpool Street restaurant despite it keeping his name and dishes, he went on to launch his first restaurant in Islington called 12:51 in 2018 to critical acclaim. His playful style of cookery at 12:51 has been particularly lauded for its precision and unusual flavour combinations.
There’s no doubt that James Cochran is still very much on the rise within the restaurant industry and he’s certainly someone who you will continue to hear more and more about in the coming years.