Kitchen Table’s James Knappett on urban foraging

Words by
Charlotte McManus

2nd September 2021

The leading chef reveals his top tips for seasonal foraging, from the best spots to hunt in London to the tastiest wild foods to source

Known for his highly creative and exquisitely presented dishes, chef James Knappett specialises in transforming seasonal homegrown ingredients with freshness and flair. His two-starred restaurant Kitchen Table recently reopened to much fanfare following a swish refurbishment, inviting diners to witness first-hand the theatre of the kitchen in an intimate, unhurried setting. Here, he reveals his long-held passion for foraging, complete with tips on how to do it like a pro. 


What kinds of foods can be found in the wild at this time of year? 
You can forage an abundance of ingredients at the moment, including watercress, chamomile, meadowsweet, pea flowers, elderflower and sweet woodruff. All of which can be find in parks, woodlands, on hedgerows - and in fresh cold water, if you’re specifically looking for watercress. 
Tips for a first-time forager?
Get out there and get familiar with your local area. There are lots of great apps (e.g. Wild Edibles Forage) and books which can help you identify things and guide you through exactly what, where and when to be foraging. 
Kitchen Table’s James Knappett on urban foraging
Is bountiful foraging possible in London?

Foraging can be done in almost any green space. London has many parks and forests, but it’s important to make sure that they’re not protected before you start foraging. I would suggest going to  Hampstead Heath, Hackney Marshes and Tottenham Marshes. 
One of your favourite seasonal wild foods – and an interesting way to use it?
Meadowsweet is a firm favourite in my kitchen. It can be found in damp meadows and alongside lakes and rivers from about May until September. It’s got a sweet honey, aromatic and slightly medicinal flavour that works well with berries or lightly infused into creams, oils and cordials. 
Kitchen Table’s James Knappett on urban foraging

Have foraged ingredients found their way into the dishes featured on Kitchen Table's new menu?

We currently use meadowsweet, which we’ve lightly infused into cream and set like a panna cotta - it’s served with the sweetest raw English strawberries dressed in an oil that's also infused with meadowsweet. 

What can we expect from the restaurant’s autumn offering?

During the autumn months we focus heavily on British game, from wild shot deer and wood pigeon to pheasant and mallard. We like to use whatever the game-keepers have shot that weekend. We will also be using more autumnal stone fruits and our menu tends to feature more rich flavours at this time of the year.