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James Knappet @ The Loft

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Since opening Viajante, Nuno Mendes has turned The Loft from a personal test kitchen to a platform for young chefs (often sous' from big name kitchens) to develop and showcase their ideas.

James Knappet is a young English chef with an impressive resume including 18 months at Per Se and 18 months as sous at Noma. I met James at Noma, we bonded over our mutual love for Arsenal, Asian women and Danish pastries and have stayed in touch since. He is currently sous at Marcus Wareing where, according to a recent interview, Wareing seems to rate Knappet highly:

"James might be the guy who takes over from me here someday," Wareing acknowledges, "or perhaps he’s the guy I help to set up somewhere else. He’s been very open about what he wants, just as I was with Gordon, shown me his ambition and revealed he wants my help to get there. I’ll do all of that and more."

Nice sentiments but comparing a recent dinner at MW vs. a dinner that James did at The Loft, I'm not sure that Wareing is the guy to help James get to the next level. James' best dishes at The Loft were on a different level as regards creativity and flavour.

Andy Fenn and I joined Nuno, James Lowe from St John Bread & Wine and 10 others for a cracking meal. Food Snob has some good photos here. My favourite dishes were:

Duck egg

ramson & rye bread

Very good dish - slow cooked duck egg with ramson veloute, I'm a sucker for wild garlic.

Rabbit "tortillas"

A take on tortialls/Peking duck. The rabbits were cooked in cream and then charred on a BBQ and brought to the table whole to be wrapped in tortillas with romesco sauce, strips of aubergine, flaked almonds and coriander. Really delicious.


milk, burrata & dead nettles

Beautifully cooked lamb and the sweet dried milk skin was an excellent accompaniment. Excellent dish.

"Red velvet"

beetroot & liquorice

Incredible liquorice ice-cream whipped up in Nuno's Pacojet (every home should have one). Great combination with the beetroot cake and powder. Fenn proclaimed it the best thing he had eaten all year - Fenn's credentials might be a little lacking but that is still saying something.

An excellent meal with exciting high points - Knappet is clearly someone to keep an eye on. Serious credit to Nuno too for launching and supporting The Loft concept - its a great opportunity for young chefs.

Edited by IanT (log)

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All Hail Nuno Mendes for his vision on The Loft Project and thanks to yourself for providing the link.

It is fantastic the depth in quality of talent just waiting to burst forth on to the restaurant scene.

We are looking forward very much to eating here.

BTW, Do you know where Ollie Dabbous is working these days after his time at Texture.

Edited by david goodfellow (log)

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