Food for the soul
We spoke to Executive Chef Nick Harris about the wonderful world of dining at Jarrolds
Our Executive Chef Nick Harris oversees the kitchens across all the dining outlets in store. Originally from Cornwall, Nick started his career working in his parents’ restaurant before heading to several prestigious establishments in London and the Home Counties, including Cliveden, The Crazy Bear, The Lanesborough and Quaglino’s. A member of The Craft Guild of Chefs and the Masterchefs of Great Britain, Nick has cooked for Queen Elizabeth II, Kylie Minogue and Elton John, among others. Nick married a “Norfolk girl” he met in Quaglino’s and the pair moved to the county over a decade ago, when Jarrolds caught his eye.
What does your job involve?
When I first came here, my job was to give each food outlet in the store its own identity, which we’ve achieved, and we’ve grown the number of outlets. Most of the morning is general running of the kitchens and work meetings. I do all the procurement for food and beverage, which means meeting with suppliers and haggling for the best prices and the best products, and I’m responsible for the costs for all the restaurants, as well as health and safety, hazards and risk assessments. And then on top of that, the menus!
What’s your approach to creating menus?
I like to use as much seasonal and local produce as possible. At Jarrolds, we serve everything from the humble jacket potato through to Royal Beluga caviar, so there’s quite an array of options. Being a chef is where my passion lies, but I enjoy teaching, developing and showing the team what I’ve done in the past. I believe in leading by example and bring the team on the journey with me. I’ve got a very good team.
What’s your food ethos?
Simplicity. The less you can do to a natural product, the better. If you can buy a great tomato that’s nurtured and grown to its best in sun and soil, that’s ideal. Let the product talk for itself. It’s the same with most food; you are what you eat. That’s why Scottish beef tastes so good, because the grass grows much slower, the mineral content is far greater. It’s more expensive, but the end product is better.
It ties in with seasonality. We’ve got some wonderful fruit in this country, but our window is four-to-six weeks. Supermarkets are businesses and they wouldn’t stock strawberries all year round if there wasn’t demand, which is why you get fruit grown in polytunnels, but it’s not quite the same as something grown in soil.
What food trends have you seen in 2023?
Covid caused street food to become a big thing, but it would be cheating to put street food on a plate in Jarrolds!
What’s your favourite autumn/winter ingredient?
Squash, which are in season. You can use them to make hearty soups. You’ll also get orchard fruit during the autumn season, so apples and pears.
Do you have a favourite dish?
My two favourite ingredients are the humble egg and asparagus. English asparagus only has a short window, so I hit it hard when it’s here. But I don’t know if I have a favourite dish. If I’m doing a dinner party at home, then my go-to is beef wellington because you can make it ahead, it hits the mark and looks good. You’re not tied to the kitchen so you can host. And Cornish turbot is a favourite of mine, but I’m a bit biased!