Meet our Head Chef, James Finch

14th December 2017

Our Head Chef, James Finch’s passion for cooking began in his early years while he was growing up in Suffolk. He cooked at home with his Nan using produce and ingredients grown by his family. James’ first job was at the age of 14, peeling carrots and potatoes at a local restaurant before going on to study at City College Norwich where he trained to be a Chef.

We catch up with James, who is known not just for his tasty recipes but also warm and friendly nature, to find out more about him and his passion.

How long have you been working at The Westleton Crown hotel and restaurant?
I have been Head Chef at The Crown since June 2015.

Where were you before?
I worked at Sibton White Horse for 4 years. I spent a year and half there as Sous Chef and a further 2 and half years there as Head Chef. Actually, my first full time job was at The Westleton Crown, I joined after finishing college and started out as Commis Chef and later took on the role of Sous Chef. After leaving The Crown for 4 years and gaining more experience, I decided I wanted to return but this time as Head Chef.

Head Chef, James Finch at The Westleton Crown
Head Chef, James Finch

Where did you train?
I trained to become a Chef at City College Norwich for three years.

What is your favourite dish to cook?
My all-time favourite dish to cook is slow-cooked venison.

What would you say are the key ingredients to building a successful kitchen?
I would say passion, commitment and the eagerness to improve. I think these are the key ingredients to building a successful team in any industry, whether it’s a team of builders or a team of Chefs. I feel that to be successful you need the desire to always do better.

If you had the opportunity to travel to cook in any country for a year, where would it be?
I think I would choose France, to cook the classical dishes that I trained to cook.

Dishes cooked by James
Mouth-watering dishes cooked by Head Chef, James

If you could cook a meal for anyone, who would it be and what would you cook?
The Queen – I’m a royalist! The dish that I would choose to cook is venison from one of her estates.

Who was your main cooking influence when you were growing up?
My Nan was my biggest cooking influence when I was growing up, she was a service cook. I started cooking with my Nan from a young age. I was born and bred in Suffolk and my family always raised pigs and cows as well as having our own orchard. I always knew I wanted to be a Chef but I think this still influenced me. 

Do you have any tips for aspiring chefs?
The more you put in the more you get out.

What do you like doing when you’re not cooking?
I like to go shooting, especially clay pigeon. I find it’s a great way to relax and switch off from everything for a while.

What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t a Chef?
I have always said that if I wasn’t a Chef that I think I’d like to be goldminer, just because it looks fun. 

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