James Donoghue, an award winning chef & gardener from Essex

PUBLISHED: 11:18 18 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:55 20 February 2013

James Donoghue

James Donoghue

James Donoghue, an awarding-winning gardener and chef, shares his thoughts on keeping bees and listening to hits by The Beatles

Cooking up a storm


How old are you?
Old enough to know better, but too young to know why.


What do you do for a living?
I am the chef/proprietor of The Pheasant at Gestingthorpe and have been since 2006. I also run the Borley Smokery which provides smoked food to The Pheasant, other restaurants and the general public.


Tell us about your family
I will have been married to Diana for 21 years in August. We met while working at the same hotel in Yorkshire. Dianas family live nearby in Castle Hedingham.


Do you have any pets?
No, but I do keep bees for a hobby and have five hives which can hold several thousand bees each. I use the honey in recipes instead of sugar.


Where do you live?
Well have been at The Pheasant for four years in July this year. Before that we lived in Halstead for 12 years and then in London for about five years, running bars and restaurants. But I actually grew up in Otley, near Ilkley, close to the North Yorkshire moors.


I watch the sun rise over our garden through the
mist on a summer morning


What do you love about where you live?
Gestingthorpe is a very peaceful, rural village and the view from our garden is breathtaking, especially watching the sun rise through the mist on a summer morning and walking around the garden on a balmy summer evening, taking in all the colours at the end of the day. We are very privileged to live in such a beautiful part of the country.


What do you love about your job?
Getting it right. Watching customers leave the restaurant with a smile on their face, thanking us for an enjoyable evening and hearing that they are looking forward to returning.


What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
Winning Best Newcomer Restaurant in Essex 2008; this was totally unexpected as we were up against serious competition from around the county. My other proudest moment was when I was a garden designer and won a bronze medal at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2003 for my garden which I now have installed at The Pheasant.


Where do you see yourself in five years time?
I see myself still at The Pheasant. At the time of writing we are proposing to build a cart-lodge to accommodate five bedrooms so that we can expand our business further and we will continue to develop it over the next five years.


How do you relax?
In a nice hot bath or sauna after a swim, or with a nice glass of wine sitting in the garden.


What is your favourite piece of music and why?
I listen to music most of the day, especially when Im slicing salmon in the smokehouse. At present the CD thats on is The Beatles Revolver and the track I constantly repeat is Taxman.


Where are the best views to be had in Essex?
The view from our garden has to be one of the best.


Describe Essex in one sentence.
Its a county where you can live life fast or slow.


What is your favourite town in Essex and why?
Halstead. We lived there for 12 years and the community and small business owners are very friendly. The hill on the High Street also reminds me of a little bit of Yorkshire.


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