Mon, 11th Nov 2019
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CODE Special
Q&A with James Hill

 

When did you realise you wanted to work in hospitality? 
 
 Mum and Dad bought a 400 year old Inn when I was 4 years old.  My whole formative life was spent in this world of food, beverage and mum cooking at the stove.  When I got a real job after university I realised it wasn’t for me and wanted to get right back to helping people have a good time round the table.  


 
Where and how did you get your start?  


A few years after Mum and Dad sold their first hospitality business the economy took a dive in 2008 and they wanted to get their money back into property... I suggested I would be a good bet to help them with that!  The rest is history.   
 
 
Sum up your current work life in one sentence. 


Helping people create authentic and memorable times together around the table.  

 
 
Who has been really influential on your career and why? 


Robin Hutson... Watching his work has been a master class in creating the kind of hospitality that people want... relaxed, homely and approachable.   
 


What’s next for you? 


We’re opening a new restaurant with rooms in Spring 2020 built on the inside of the old walls of our walled garden, so here at Hampton Manor.  You’ll literally see where your dinner was plucked from a few hours earlier and there will be an open kitchen behind you allowing you to enjoy the life and energy of kitchen.  It will be an immersive experience that we’ve been dreaming up for 10 years.  It will be a unique combination where our experience of running a Michelin Star restaurant (Peel's at Hampton Manor) meets the rustic, natural hospitality that we’ve felt so at home in as we scoured the worlds best lifestyle hotels.   
 


 
What’s your one piece of advice to someone starting out? 


Be patient.  Don’t panic.  Be absolutely clear how you make the money you need to keep your dream alive.   
 
 
 
Where did you last have a great meal?
 
 
 
Maos in Shoreditch was one of the most progressive dining experiences I’ve ever had.  I love the concept of communal dining but understand why many don’t.  Maos were masterful at creating the possibility for guests to connect whilst also providing a natural way to roam around the natural homely environment if anything got a little awkward.  This freedom whilst enjoying world class cooking wherever you happen to be was incredible.  I’ve never encountered a combination quite like it.  As it was we made some fantastic new friends that night and created a unique memory.  
 
 


Are there any openings you are looking forward to?
 
 
I’m absolutely itching to be sipping wine in Birmingham’s first natural wine bar.  Our friend’s at Wine Freedom are transforming an old industrial warehouse in Digbeth into a wine bar and shop.  They have really changed the conversation in Birmingham,  bringing natural wine to most of the city’s Michelin starred restaurant and up and coming eateries.  
 
 


Where is the most exciting city for hospitality (aside from London)? 
 
Without doubt Birmingham is a strong contender.  Whatever some of the critics have said Birmingham is much more than just leading the way in Michelin started dining.  We’re seeing passionate, produce led dining at all price points and styles now.  
 
 


Who would you identify as a rising star? 
 
There are rising stars and rising legends... our friends Gareth and Amelia at Ynyshir are producing something truly extraordinary and courageous in the middle of nowhere and people are flocking.  I’m sure this will be one of the legends I’m telling my kids about when I’m old! 

 




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