Award winning chef James Knappett from Soham tells students ‘to achieve in life you must create the oportunities yourself’

PUBLISHED: 11:47 15 October 2019

James Knappett, award winning chef from Soham offers advice to aspiring students hoping to emulate his success. Picture; CAMBRIDGE REGIONAL COLLEGE

James Knappett, award winning chef from Soham offers advice to aspiring students hoping to emulate his success. Picture; CAMBRIDGE REGIONAL COLLEGE


An award-winning chef, who turned up unannounced at Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant shortly after finishing college to ask for a job, says the only way to achieve in life is to grab your own opportunities.

James Knappett had not long finished a catering course at Cambridge Regional College, when he decided to ask Gordon for a job.

It began a career that has seen him travel the world and prepare food for the rich and famous.

James, 38, said: "Not bad for a country boy from the small town of Soham! Gordon is an incredible man and an inspirational chef. I learnt a lot."

He has also worked with Rick Stein in Cornwall, and later travelled to America to work with Thomas Keller, considered the best chef in the world, in his New York restaurant, Per Se, James.

"It is an amazing gastronomic restaurant where we served movie and music stars as standard. Robert de Niro was a regular," said James.

James later moved to the Noma restaurant in Copenhagen followed by a head chef post at Marcus Wareing's restaurant, The Berkeley,

James finally took the plunge to open his own business, Bubbledogs in Fitzrovia serving gastronomic hot dogs with champagne alongside a bistro of refined modern British food.

Run with his wife Sandia, the setting has recently been given five stars by Time Out magazine and has two Michelin stars.

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James said: "I've made a lot of sacrifices to build up my career and it has been a lot of hard work but it has been worth it.

"My advice to any young chefs is to listen to the lecturers in class. They are good; they know what they are talking about. Learn discipline, respect your whites and respect the way of working as a team in the kitchen.

"As a chef your destiny is in your own hands. Choose your friends wisely, focus and learn everything you can and keep on learning. To achieve in life you must create the opportunities yourself," he said.

So, with so many gastronomic dishes under his belt what is James' favourite meal to prepare and enjoy?

"A Sunday roast definitely!" he said.

"You can't beat a properly roasted chicken and Paxo with all of the trimmings. I even named my dog Paxo as a tribute to my favourite stuffing!"

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