Kitchen Table is a platform for James and his team, to highlight creativity and passion for producers and ingredients – none of this would be possible without the people behind the brand.
Since the birth of Kitchen Table, the restaurant has been run by James’ partner in crime and law, his wife Sandia Chang. Although Sandia and James are still very much at the helm, we are excited to introduce you to a new addition to the family, who is partial to a spoonful of Marmite and Jason Atherton .
Introducing Ben Porter, Restaurant Manager
What is your career background?
“I studied my NVQs in my hometown of Boston in Lincolnshire at the local college. When I finished my studies, I took my first full time job at the historic Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland. Then I moved down to Castle Combe in Wiltshire and worked at The Manor House Hotel and Golf Club, becoming Head Sommelier at the age of 23. This was a great learning curve for me. In 2014 I decided to take the next step in my career and moved down to London, where I joined the team at Jason Atherton’s Michelin starred Pollen Street Social. After a year in London, I then moved to Kitchen Table and the rest, as they say, is now history…”
What is your favourite grape variety?
“It is a very tough choice, but I would have to say Pinot Noir. I love the diversity you get from the varietal. Whether it’s from the new or old world it’s always different.”
What’s your food and wine matching philosophy?
“Trial and Error. For me, I don’t think there should be rules for food and drink pairings. It’s all about trying it and if doesn’t work, try something else, but if it does then that’s great. At Kitchen Table we also use a lot of sake, beer and cider for food pairings, so it doesn’t need to stop with just wine when comes to finding the perfect match.”
What is it like working with Chef James Knappett?
“You want me to be honest?! No, James is a good guy to work with. He is the boss, but a chef at the end of the day and chefs are perfectionists, so that naturally comes through in his personality and rubs off on yourself as well. I think we get on well, even though he is an Arsenal fan!!”
If you can give someone young in their wine career a top tip, what would it be?
“Taste, taste and taste! You learn so much more about wine when you are tasting or drinking it, than you will do from any book. Your palette retains more information about wine than your head will.”
Now for the best part, quick fire:
1) Who is your culinary hero? Jason Atherton, he’s from my hometown
2) What is your favourite restaurant? Barrafina
3) What is your food guilty pleasure? Junk food. Anything bad like kebabs or anything deep fried
4) What’s been your best meal in the past year? In Barcelona, gourmet tapas by Sensi
5) What’s your favourite dish from childhood? My Mums pasta bake – She calls it a ‘Speggheti Bake’!
6) What would your last supper be? Home with my family and Mums pasta bake
7) Most annoying food trend? Fermenting everything
8) If you were a cocktail what would you be? Moscow Mule
9) Best hidden gem restaurant in London? Why? Kitchen Table of course!
10) Marmite… Love it or hate it? Love it