Wed, 20th Nov 2019
CODE Special
Q&A with James Ramsden


When did you realise you wanted to work in hospitality? 

I've always liked organising parties and I suppose one day I realised that opening a restaurant might be a bit like organising a party, but every night. And then of course you remember that organising a party is stressful so organising one every night is especially stressful, but also rewarding and fun and bizarre.

Where and how did you get your start?

As a kid I worked in the local pub, first as a KP and then behind the bar, but that wasn't so much a start as something to do in the holidays. Originally I'd wanted to be a food writer and ran a supper club on the side. The supper club sort of went better than the food writing so I just ended up evolving that into a restaurant after meeting Sam. 

Sum up your current work life in one sentence. 

It seems that hospitality is mostly a game of two steps forward and one step back, so as long as we can keep it that way we'll keep moving forward with any luck.

Who has been really influential on your career and why? 

A huge number of people who I've tried to mine for as much advice as possible! I've found it amazing how freely others give up their time for a series of probably pretty inane questions on my part. 

What’s next for you?

A sandwich shop, Sons + Daughters, in Coal Drops Yard, and then we'll see. Something outside of London is on the cards at some point...

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

Ask as many people as many questions as you possibly can. 

Where did you last have a great meal?

Singburi in Leytonstone deserves all the props it gets. We also had a lovely farewell lunch at the much-missed Great Queen Street.

Are there any openings you are looking forward to?

I feel about a year behind as it is. Flor is top of my hitlist currently. It looks pretty impeccable.

Where is the most exciting city for hospitality (aside from London)?  

Bristol seems to go through peaks and troughs but when it's peaking, it's sensational. We had a wonderful lunch at Wilsons a while ago.

Who would you identify as a rising star? 

There are so many great front of house out there who probably don't get the credit they deserve and who do as much as any chef to make the experience a cracker - Richard Davis at 10 Cases, Margot Tyson at Parsons (ex of Pidgin of course), Claire Wright, Emma Underwood, our own Georgia Gallacher, and the already-risen-like-a-fine-souffle Thomas Blythe spring to mind.

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