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Meet Chef, James Strawbridge 

We chat to James about life in Cornwall, foraging and his new book Salt and the Art of Seasoning.


When he’s not cooking by the sea, James works from his garden studio on Cornwall’s calm south coast to develop new recipes and direct food-based photoshoots. You’ll regularly find the chef exploring the Cornish countryside, foraging for seasonal produce or gig-rowing with his local club. He’s also just released a new book, Salt and the Art of Seasoning, filled with beautiful photography, writing and recipes. 

When we met James, we brought some of our menswear for him to try for a day by the shoreline. He cooked us freshly caught Cornish mackerel over an open fire on the beach. While the smoky smell of herbs and foraged greens filled the air, we asked him a few questions about his passion for wild cooking and rich Cornish flavour.

What drew you to the south coast of Cornwall? 

I have travelled the entire south coast of England by boat and the area surrounding Fowey has always remained my favourite spot to call home.  

For me, the southeast corner of Cornwall has it all – there are hidden coves and small beaches within walking distance of my house, thriving ports and fishing harbours like Fowey and Looe on the doorstep and a charming mysterious side that remains slightly off the beaten track.  

As a foodie, it’s heavenly with superb ingredients and the area’s raw natural beauty continues to blow my mind even after twenty years living here.  

I love being outdoors in Cornwall... taking in the views that change from one day to the next.

What’s your idea of a perfect Cornish day?  

A perfect Cornish day has all the weather – sunshine and a little mizzle (somewhere between mist and drizzle). 

I love being outdoors in Cornwall, so my perfect day always starts with a walk along the coast path with the dogs. After taking in the views that change from one day to the next, and admiring the rainbow of hedgerow flowers, I would do some cooking and shoot some recipes in my garden studio. 

Then after a light lunch (or if I’m lucky, a pasty) I’d pop over to Fowey with the family and finish the day with some gig rowing on the river. 

What ignited your passion for food?   

My passion for food really started when we took over an old farmhouse in Tywardreath and made It’s Not Easy Being Green for BBC2. We went self-sufficient with most of our food and I learned how to preserve the harvest and use artisan skills to enjoy tasty local food. This coincided with when I started cheffing so, since then, I’ve been hooked. 

Salt has the ability to boost flavour and is almost magical in the way it can transform food.

Can you tell us a bit about your new book?    

Salt and the Art of Seasoning is my love letter to many chefs’ favourite ingredient. Salt has the ability to boost flavour and is almost magical in the way it can transform food.  

Living in Cornwall, the salty sea is never far from us and I feel a deep connection to sea salt. I also felt that it’s a subject that has been misunderstood for many years, so I wanted to dispel some myths. 

Is there a particular recipe or technique in it that you’d recommend for beginners?    

Pre-salting or curing fish before you cook it is a great technique to master. It’s amazing the difference you will taste when you salt a fillet of fish before you cook it – the results are delicious and it’s a simple cooking method to try at home. 

You use foraged elements in some of your recipes. Can you give any tips to first time foragers?    

Be informed and make sure that you are 100% sure what you are picking before you eat it. Also only take what you need, and make sure you leave plenty for wildlife and to keep the plants healthy.  

My top tip would be to try foraging for seaweeds – they are fantastic fun and taste amazing. Book yourself onto a seashore foraging course or a day workshop if you want to take this further. You will be amazed at the variety and abundance of edible sea vegetables. 

Do you have a special place to work, cook or write?    

Most of the time I write in my garden studio space which is surrounded by photography equipment, props, artwork and cookbooks. It’s my creative hideaway from a busy household – the ultimate chef’s man cave with knives, a coffee machine and my banjo.

I cook in our family kitchen space that’s got the best of both worlds with professional kit and a family vibe.

How do you think your personal style is influenced by your day-to-day life?     

What I choose to wear day-to-day has always been inspired by the notion that fashions are fleeting but style is timeless. I love looks that hint at heritage, practical workwear and comfortable clothes that suit my Cornish lifestyle. 

In Cornwall, there is very little room for anything that’s not useful and durable. The elements will fray your clothes and my daily hard graft is demanding on what I wear so I’d say that my personal style is pretty grounded and fit for the coast and country. If you can’t row a gig in it, then it’s probably not for me…

What I choose to wear day-to-day has always been inspired by the notion that fashions are fleeting but style is timeless.

Do you have a favourite item from Seasalt?

I’m in love with the linen shirt, jumpers and beanie from the new range. I like the way I felt completely at home in them, as though I’d been wearing them for years. I can see these items and many other pieces from the shoot being in my wardrobe for years to come.  

You can keep up with James on Instagram @JGStrawbridge, or on his website, Strawbridge Kitchen

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