Chef Profile – Jaimie Haselock

How would I describe my cooking…? Energetic, imaginative and resourceful. For as long as I can remember, I have been passionate about food and creating tasty dishes, from the sea, land and veggie patch. Being very dyslexic the classroom and office weren’t for me, instead I found I could concentrate my creative skills within food and the wild.

After training under some of the finest chefs in London I have recently returned to West Somerset to establish my Gamey Jaimie brand. Using locally-sourced produce and a wealth of culinary experience, l produce exciting, tasty dishes for my clients using wild game. Whether catering for a formal dinner, shoot, fishing trip, in the wilds of Africa, a weekend house party or an outdoor social event, I aim to deliver an unforgettable experience in a professional yet relaxed Gamey Jaimie manner.

What inspired you to become a chef?

Watching my mother cook for flamboyant dinner parties, seeing how much fun they were having, how much effort she put into them, putting a gastronomic smile on everyone’s faces, the wonderful compliments she would receive. Watching Keith Floyd on telly as a young boy, saying to myself ‘I want to do that one day’. The creativity behind cooking, the science and invention. Putting my personality on a plate for everyone to enjoy, laugh, smile and talk about.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

The energy, the thought process of getting a dish perfect, the hard work followed by the hard play. Getting people together and enjoying what I’ve made for them. The reaction on someone’s face when they’ve clearly loved my food. How happy and relaxed it actually makes me feel. It’s my way of therapy and stress relief.

And least?

It’s not great for any relationship. Cooking for the intolerable dietary requirements these days, vegans, and the nouveau riche.

What is your favourite game bird to cook at home?

Guinea fowl in cider and garlic, just sublime, can never get bored of this game bird. And Waitrose sell it!

What is the most important thing to bear in mind when cooking game at home?

DO NOT OVER COOK! Keep it moist and juicy and importantly keep it simple.

What game in particular benefits from hanging?

Venison. As with any aged beef, venison is exactly the same in process, the longer the better in my opinion.

You are cooking for a dinner party at home with game as the primary ingredient, what would you serve for starters and mains?

Tricky question, totally depends on the time of year. How the weather is doing outside; do you want a winter warmer or a healthy clean bit of meat or river fish with a salad coming into spring.

My perfect game dinner party would be a trio of canapés; venison tartare on spoons, Madeira diced partridge on grilled sourdough, pheasant consommé tea with truffle. Amuse bouche of wild mushroom risotto; starter pan fried trout with crayfish sauce and braised fennel; main dish of loin of venison barbecued, with a blackberry vodka jus, buttery poached chicken stock carrots and celeriac purée or a finely sliced cider vinegar celeriac salad.

Is there a particular game dish you serve regularly in your restaurant?

The dish that seems to be most popular is my barbecued venison loin, with a vodka and blackberry sauce. This dish has earned me the titles of CLA Game Chef of The Year and GWCT Game Chef of The Year.

How would you describe what makes game different?

The deep flavours, how simple it is to cook, the most naturally sustainable meat you can get. There’s no crap in it. It’s clean, lean and healthy and that’s the message we need to give out.

What is the best way of encouraging people to eat more game?

Get it into the mainstream supermarkets, promote it on the high streets and educate the public.

What’s the best – and worst – game dish you’ve ever eaten?

By far the best was the wild boar I shot in the Croatian Balkans, soaked and marinated in local honey, local wine, 50 cloves of garlic, and onions for about 4 days in a big drum, then slowly cooked in a clay oven, served simply with roasted potatoes and a cucumber salad. Abso-effing-lutely delicious!

Worst dish was dried monkey meat in Uganda.

Is there any game you don’t – or wouldn’t – eat?

Does badger count? //