Meet the new chef at Aurora, Ipswich
- Credit: Archant
Georgia Watson meets James Drummond, new head chef at Aurora, Ipswich.
How did you first get into cooking and when did you decide to become a chef?
I fell into cooking really, it was something I had always enjoyed as a hobby from an early age, from about 13 or 14 years old, but I never thought I would enjoy it as a job. I went through many other jobs and then I asked a friend of mine who owned a pub if I could do a few shifts in the kitchen to see if I enjoyed it. I never went back to anything else. That was in 2003, so I’ve been cooking for 14 years professionally now.
I hear there have been some changes to the menus, can you tell us more?
We’ve updated the à la carte menu and we have a new lunch menu, called Get Set which will run until the end of November. One course is £12, two courses are £14 or have all three for £17. The menu will change every few days. As we sell out of something we will replace it with another dish.
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The Get Set Menu is very much a stripped back version of what we do for the à la carte. For example, some of the things that would be on the mackerel dish on the à la carte menu, like the caviar, would be taken off for the lunch menu to make it fitting at that price.
What were your inspirations when creating the new lunch menu?
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My main inspiration was to be able to produce dishes that we would do here, but competitively priced, which we’re not really known for, whilst still maintaining a balance for fine food.
How have you managed to do that?
We’ve taken the cheaper cuts of meat like pork belly and chicken legs and we’ve just put more work into the dish, so it’s a little bit more nurtured. That way we can reflect the price back to the customer.
What are your influences when it comes to cooking and producing a new menu?
I read a lot of books and watch YouTube videos for inspiration, but probably some of my biggest influences chef-wise would be Tom Kerridge and Nathan Outlaw. I like their very honest, stripped back approach to good food that people recognise. Nothing too fancy, just good honest food.
What’s your favourite thing about being a head chef?
I think the biggest thing I enjoy about it is that everyday is different and you’re always learning. It’s not a job where you can know everything, whether it’s a cuisine or a technique, there’s always new things coming round, so it’s just not possible to know everything, it’s ever-evolving. I think that suits me, it keeps my mind occupied and stops me getting bored.
What is your top tip for cooking Christmas dinner?
I cook Christmas dinner at home, and I usually cook it for about 16 people. My top tip is to make lists and a timeline. And start a couple of days in advance, preparation is key.
We’ve already started preparation for Christmas here at Aurora, we’re making the stuffing, rolling the chipolatas in bacon and making soup at the moment.
And finally, what are your plans for 2018 at Aurora?
After the New Year we’ll have a break for two weeks, and when we return on January 18 we’ll have a whole new menu and an updated Get Set lunch menu.
We’re bringing the menu prices down, as we’re known as an occasion restaurant, somewhere to go to celebrate, however we’re planning to be more accessible in terms of price point.