With experience across some of London’s highly acclaimed Michelin-starred kitchens including La Trompette and Murano, Josh Hunter now holds the title of Head Chef at Holland and Holland’s scenic shooting grounds in Northwood. It is here that Josh’s passion for meticulous sourcing of British produce and farm-to-fork approach really came to the fore, with the ingredients for his next dish being hunted and harvested nearby as he cooks.
Without a clear sense of what the future held for him, Josh embarked on a politics degree at Exeter Uni which he hoped would help steer his path ahead. A brief three weeks into the curriculum, he came to the realisation that it just wasn’t for him, and boarded a plane to Australia to play rugby for six months. While out there, he spent spare pockets of time waiting on restaurant tables, which reignited his interest in cooking which had first developed in the kitchen with his mother at home. Considering the idea to explore the food world, he looked to his companions for advice. “I wanted to work in food but wasn’t really sure how to get there, then one of my friends mentioned Leiths and I checked it out.”
“As soon as I came to look round I liked it, it was a nice environment. I went to look around another cookery school and just much preferred the atmosphere at Leiths. It was one of the best years of my life I think.”
Directly after completing his diploma, Josh headed straight over to work aside chef Anthony Boyd at La Trompette, before joining the kitchen team at Murano. “Obviously going straight into a good kitchen was challenging, but I enjoyed it. You have to really dig in to get through it I suppose, I think everyone finds that when they start a job in a restaurant, but obviously it’s very worthwhile in the long run.”
Armed with a strong foundation of skills and due to the extensive range of topics covered from Leiths, he felt in a secure position to embrace the challenge. “Some things you do at Leiths you won’t see for the first couple of years you’re working, but then a few years later you’ll do something and you’ll think ‘I haven’t done that since Leiths’.” There were, however, a few trickier things to face such as doing everything more quickly and under a lot more pressure, along with the 16-hour days.
“A lot of people don’t seem to make their mind up about what they want to do until they’re about 30. I’ve never fully understood that to be honest. I think it’s best to take a direction and embrace it, and then later on if you want to change course then fine, but I think you’ll probably get further along if you’ve got a set idea in your mind of what you’re doing.”