We already love Jamie Shears Lobster Pie, a hit at the Mount St Restaurant & Rooms, and now the Executive Chef shares five minutes with SPHERE to reveal the unexpected 1930s inspiration behind his iconic pie, and the unusual London spots he forages for key ingredients.
Five Minutes with Mount St. Chef Jamie Shears
11th July 2023
We take five minutes with Mount St. chef Jamie Shears. Since the restaurant opened late last year, it's been a runaway success, now we hear his kitchen secrets.
Five Minutes with Mount St. Chef Jamie Shears
My mum worked in a hotel in Torquay, where I grew up, and got me a job there as a kitchen porter when I was 14... That was my first introduction to a professional kitchen. Ever since I was a child I'd always been interested in food, so I ended up doing some work experience there as a chef. I loved being part of the team and the camaraderie that came with it, and it fuelled me to take cheffing up as a full time career.
I properly began my career in the British Army at the age of just 16... and although it didn’t teach me refined cooking techniques, it certainly gave me a great foundation to take into professional kitchens. First and foremost you learn how to work with others, managing and navigating different characters and how to work under pressure. As you can imagine you also have to work hard and be disciplined in everything you do – from maintaining a routine to maintaining your kit and cleanliness of the kitchen. That is probably why I am now very militant about a clean workspace!
My drive to cook brought me to Gordon Ramsay and Chris Galvin, which was… eye opening and invaluable experience. Working in a tough kitchen environment in the army helped to hone my skills which in turn prepared me well for the Michelin starred kitchen.
Building the Mount St. Restaurant menu has been… an education! The brief was British cooking with a nod to historical London dishes, so I read a lot of old cookbooks including Catherine Ives’ Homepride Cookery Book from 1933, which was full of interesting and unusual recipes that provided amazing inspiration for some of the dishes we have on the menu now. It has also been an incredibly rewarding process in general, especially seeing the praise and positive critique we have had both from press and our customers who come back time and time again.
The Lobster pie is definitely a firm favourite with our guests... Interestingly it used to be seen as a peasant’s dish, now at Mount St. Restaurant it is one of our most indulgent. It contains two lobsters in a rich creamy bechamel sauce mixed with lobster bisque. Another hit has been the Bubble & Squeak which is a side dish. I think a lot of people are pleasantly surprised at how it is served – grated potato, grated carrot, sliced cabbage that has been pressed for two hours before deep frying, served with an HP hollandaise sauce.
For summer at Mount St. Restaurant I recommend everyone try the… fig leaf soft serve we have just added to the menu – it’s one of the most frequently updated items on the menu as we love to experiment with different seasonal ingredients. For this, I foraged the leaves myself from a secret spot in Little Venice in London. Fig leaf has only gained popularity as ingredient in the last few years and it has a very distinctive flavour – quite nutty with a hint of coconut which makes it a perfect summer ingredient.
We source our food from some amazing suppliers... I have been working with Flying Fish – who we get our Cornish lobsters from - for over 10 years, and they sell some of the best seafood in the country. We remain loyal customers as we go through around 150 lobsters a week for the Lobster pie.
We also work closely with farmers, growers and makers, to secure the freshest British produce from around the UK, including some beef and lamb from Durslade, the farm on the site of Hauser & Wirth, Somerset. We also work with We Are Grow, the agroecological farm and outdoor learning hub at The Totteridge Academy in north London.
The store cupboard ingredient/s I can’t do without are... crispy garlic and chilli oil – it tastes great on everything – stir fried rice, broccoli. Branston Pickle is also an essential for me – perfect for a cheese and ham toastie
The kitchen kit I recommend everyone has at home is… Thermomix make the best blender – I just got one for the kitchen at Mount St. Restaurant so it’s on the pricier side but you can make everything in it. A Le Creuset dish is always good to have, as it’s so versatile, and a sandwich toaster elevates any normal sandwich!
The highlight of my career so far has to be… cooking for King Charles on the opening night of Mount St. Restaurant
To do my job, I can’t do without… my team – they are the best in the business
The podcast I last downloaded is... The Nightcap hosted by Paul Foster where he interviews guest chefs about horror stories in the kitchen – it’s an entertaining listen to say the least.
My guiltiest pleasure is… the salted caramel cookies from Aldi that are hands down the best biscuits I have ever had. I buy them whenever I have the chance.
The best thing about my life right now is… my daughter! She was born a few weeks ago.