James Cochran is one of the UK’s most exciting chefs with an impressive CV including The Ledbury, The Harwood Arms and the champion of champions accolade on the Great British Menu. James received rave reviews at restaurant James Cochran EC3 but left amid legal issues which saw him lose the rights to his name and recipes. In 2018 he opened his own restaurant, 12:51, and we caught up with him to find out what’s next.
Restaurant 12:51 opened in august 2018, what’s the ethos behind the restaurant?
Basically, for anyone and everyone. Fine dining made causal and affordable for anyone who wants to come check us out. We’d rather the atmosphere be fun and
chill than stuffy and inaccessible. Good tunes, top service and amazing food!
Do you find your mixed heritage gives you a unique approach to how you create your dishes?
No, but I do understand why others may follow that approach. For me I try to bring amazing food together from all over the world, not just from my heritage. Obviously, a few of my signature dishes reflect my heritage, like the jerk chicken with our scotch bonnet jam, but overall, I try not to be too confined by my roots.
Do you have a particular focus in your food and restaurants that you consider above all else?
What we serve up must be both affordable and accessible. I want people to come to 12:51, not be intimidated by the price or by the dishes, leave with a smile on their face and be able to recommend it to their friends.
We hear you’re a Cornish Sea Salt fan, how do you approach seasoning in
Balance, texture, acidity, simple as that!
From your menus it looks like you try to source as locally to you as possible – what do you look for when you’re sourcing produce for your restaurant?
Seasonality is the most important thing when it comes to produce. Alongside that, respecting and supporting British produce and the producers behind it is so vital to a more sustainable and authentic menu, oh and it tastes incredible of course!
What’s next for you?
Continue to grow the 12:51 restaurant and the brand. We are also very excited to be looking into the idea of opening a 12:51 pub, serving delicious pub snacks and maybe even an open kitchen at the back. Oh, and most importantly of all, you’ll be seeing our signature scotch bonnet jam start to hit the shelves!