In April, sponsors Estrella Damm whisked him and the chefs from seven other pubs named in the list off to Spain for a trip that included a visit to the restaurant recently named as the best in the world, and boasting no less than the maximum of three Michelin stars – El Celler de Can Roca in Gerona.
After a welcome from the trio of brothers who run the restaurant – head chef Joan, pastry chef Jordi and sommelier Josep, the eight British chefs, plus counterparts from around the world including New Zealand, Russia, the United States, Denmark and Korea, sat down to a feast to end all feasts.
Avant garde highlights included red mullet with prickly pear foam, sea anemone, Salicornia and Katsuobushi vinegar; ‘semi-liquid prawn’, marinated with rice vinegar and served with prawn’s head sauce, crispy legs, seaweed velouté and phytoplankton, and an extraordinary ‘Turkish Perfume’ dessert, with rose, peach, saffron, cumin, cinnamon and pistachio.
And while James has no plans to put similar dishes on the Pipe and Glass menu in the near future – apart from anything else, it’s hard to find prickly pears in East Yorkshire – he did find the whole jaunt (which he describes as a ‘cross between a really well-organised school trip and the poshest stag do ever’) hugely inspiring.
For a full and colourful account of the trip, read journalist’s Daniel Woolfson’s piece here: