Great British Menu champ to take over kitchen at Finbar’s in Westgate for guest chef night

Chef James Cochran is coming to Finbars

UPDATE: This event has been postponed and moved to May 1st due to a break-in at James’s restaurant.

A two time Great British Menu winner will take over the kitchen at Finbar’s in Westgate this month.

Whitstable-born James Cochran started his career at Wheeler’s Oyster Bar when he was 14, then moving on to Read’s restaurant in Faversham and then The Ledbury ad The Harwood Arms in London under the mentorship of Brett Graham.

Pop-up ventures followed before the opening of James Cochran EC3.

In 2018 James took part in the Great British Menu in 2018 and was named champion of champions, a title he took again in 2020.

A new move saw James take the reins at 12:51 in Islington creating his signature dishes which are influenced by his Scottish/Caribbean heritage.

Now he is bringing his culinary talents to Westgate for a 12:51 pop-up on March 20 as part of the venue’s guest chef series.

James’s menu boasts dishes such as torched, cured mackerel, truffle buttermilk fried chicken and roast hogget. Each dish will be paired with a wine from Finbar’s sommelier on the evening.

The event follows a successful series held last year with four guest chefs taking over the Finbar’s kitchen for  one night each.

Jessica Green, from Finbar’s, said: “We imagine our restaurant like a theatre and the guest chef is the headliner of an exclusive culinary one night show! Introducing a guest chef really creates an air of anticipation and excitement, drawing in both loyal customers and also curious foodies eager to indulge in something extraordinary.

“Each chef brings their unique perspective, techniques, and influences to the table. By inviting guest chefs with diverse culinary backgrounds, you orchestrate a delight of flavours that tantalize the taste buds and awaken the senses.

“With the restaurant industry growing more and more competitive, there’s more pressure now than ever to provide new and engaging guest experiences. With the day-to-day tasks of running a restaurant, finding the time to craft these experiences and constantly provide different cuisines to cater for all tastes, can be challenging.

Finbar’s at West Bay

“We like to give our guests more reason to return to our restaurant, besides exceptional food and service. Guest chefs guarantee a new and exclusive experience every single time a customer visits us. Just like pop-up shops, our guest chefs are available for only a limited time!

“Probably the greatest advantage of working with a guest chefs is creativity. Why does the chef combine the ingredients in certain mixes? Why and how did the chef prepare a certain dish in a new way? By inviting another chef into our restaurant, we not only delight our diners, but inspire our team, creating a space for experimentation and innovation.”

Tickets are £108/person to include a 5 course menu, paired wine flight, from 5pm on March 20.

Finbar’s- West Bay Cafe, West Bay Promenade, Off Sea Rd, Westgate

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  1. Interesting! I worked in the restaurant business for 20+ years.
    I could be wrong, but looks dangerously close to a rip-off. Highlighting ingredients such as mackerel (one of the cheapest fish available) and fried chicken (one of the cheapest meats available) and then charging £108 per head seems a bit much. And these types of menus throw in a microscopic amount of ‘luxury’ ingredients like truffle or caviar to make it sound indulgent.

    I know it’s hard to make a profit in the business, but by the time you add on service charge this would be nearing £500 for a table of four, which I think is stretching things to a limit.

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