Meet the chef: James Goodyear of Evelyn’s Table

Evelyn’s Table has been a Harden’s favourite since opening and is currently ranked as the third best restaurant in the UK. But with former chef Luke Selby departing the hobs (returning to Le Manoir, another Harden’s favourite) we spoke to the new captain of the ship, chef James Goodyear, to find out a little more about what guests can expect from the new Evelyn’s Table.

You took over the hobs at Evelyn’s Table towards the end of last year, how have the last six months been?

It’s been a really exciting time for me. There is obviously a bit of pressure that comes with taking over a restaurant such as Evelyn’s Table but I am really enjoying it. It’s also nice to be back in London.

How would you say your style of cooking differs from Luke’s and what can guests expect from the kitchen at Evelyn’s now?

Luke and I trained together at Le Manoir for five years where we both started our careers so, in a way, there is certainly a similarity there.  I have been fortunate to work in a lot of different kitchens globally so I take a huge amount of influence from that and I think it reflects in our menu and the service style.

Since the change, how has the restaurant been received?

We are in the lucky position insofar as we are still fully booked every night and there continues to be a huge demand for guests to come and eat at the restaurant. We have had many guests join us that have eaten here previously and it’s been lovely to hear them speak so positively about the changes that we have made.

The last six months have been very difficult for the industry, what have you found most challenging since you joined?

Again, we’re very lucky. Staffing issues and rising costs have been hugely challenging issues for the industry but fortunately at Evelyn’s Table, we’re such a small team, and serve a small amount of guests each night, it makes both of those factors much more manageable.

Evelyn’s is pretty unique in its set up, with a limited number per night, almost guaranteeing guests, does that make things easier to manage and operate or does it only raise the guest expectations?

Both, I think. It’s nice to oversee such a small operation as I can be very hands on with everything that happens on a day-to-day basis. Expectations are obviously very high from all of our guests and that’s something that I’m used to. We thrive on meeting those expectations and exceeding them as often as we can.

Chefs are usually not guest-facing roles, did the setup at Evelyn’s take some getting used to?

Fortunately, having worked in open kitchens in Scandinavia I got a lot of experience serving guests and cooking in front of them. I much prefer it – it’s really rewarding to be able to talk with our guests and see their reactions to the dishes rather than being behind closed doors.  

You mention Scandinavia and your time abroad, how did your career and your own influences impact the guest experience at Evelyn’s

Having worked in many Michelin star restaurants all over the world, I feel I have taken on board small fragments from each of those experiences to put into the menus we serve at Evelyn’s Table. From these experiences and influences, I have combined my knowledge and expertise to enhance the overall effect to give the guests something very special and I think, unique.

What can we expect to see from the next six months at Evelyn’s table?   

Lots of refinement and development, with both the menu and experience.  From July onwards, we will be opening the restaurant on Mondays because of the high demand, which means hopefully more of the industry will be able to come and dine with us.  We will also be incorporating our wine bar, The Mulwray, and our pub, The Blue Posts, to the overall guest experience at Evelyn’s Table, really embracing our location.

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