Quietly mingled amongst the leafy suburban streets of Kingston since 1896 is the Spring Grove, a pub anyone would be proud to call their local. While the pub might have been around for a while, 23-year-old head chef Jake has only been there a few weeks.
Jake’s path to the Spring Grove is, despite his years, a winding one. Jake has only been working in kitchens for around seven years, starting, as many do, washing dishes in his local pub in his native Cornwall. However, in that time, his rise has been unstoppable, moving at the unseasoned age of 17 to his first restaurant job in Bristol peeling potatoes, poaching eggs and de-bearding mussels. He built a strong partnership with his head chef, eventually following him to other restaurants in the area before accepting an opportunity to work in a French hotel as a junior sous chef. After that, Jake got back in touch with his former Head Chef in Bristol, who had just taken over Marco Pierre White’s Yew Tree pub in Berkshire, and spent time there cooking to a rosette standard.
But London was calling for Jake and so he moved to the capital and started on the ladder in Young’s, working his way up to Head Chef, and has been with us for more than four years now.
Name: Jake Perry
Title: Head Chef at the Spring Grove pub in Kingston
Favourite dish on the current menu: I’d say at lunchtime it would have to be the ‘smashed avocado, crayfish and chilli mayo sandwich’ but my current favourite dish on our menu I love cooking is the ‘Braised Short Rib of beef, Horseradish mash potato, crispy red onions and a red wine reduction”, which we do as a special. I first saw this dish as a Sous Chef working in another Young’s pub and watching customers faces as the huge rib arrived to their table has always stuck with me.
Best time of year for food: Personally, winter is my favourite time for cooking. I enjoy creating warming dishes, but I particularly love game season, a passion that started when I worked in a game-focused restaurant. I love cooking birds like grouse, snipe and partridge. One of my favourite dishes from my time there was a pigeon and foie gras terrine set in a red wine jelly and served with a rich red onion jam and melba toast.
Most treasured food memory: Whilst working at The Yew Tree, my head chef and I had a surprise visit from the godfather of food, Pierre Koffmann. We cooked him a whole grouse with bread sauce, game chips and a red current reduction.
Food trends you loath: Smoked salmon, the only thing I will never eat. I really dislike the smokey smell and can’t stand the slimy texture! A previous Head Chef forced me to eat it once and, let’s just say, it didn’t go down too well.
Dream food destination: Has to be Japan – I’m a huge sushi fan. Seafood is a real speciality of mine and their appreciation for it in their cuisine would make it my number one.
Death row dinner: Definitely a huge seafood platter of scallops, oysters, lobster and plenty of mussels with a creamy bacon and cider sauce.
Your food philosophy: Fresh, British & seasonal produce, always have an open mind to new ideas, new produce and new recipes. You can never stop growing as a chef.