Jason Wardill

Executive Chef:Mount St. John Sporting

What inspired you to become a chef?

I chose home economics at school and found everything I made always turned out better than the teachers. I soon worked out that I was destined to become a chef. What do you enjoy most about your work? I love working with amazing ingredients and bringing the best out of them. I also love the buzz of a busy kitchen. Working as a chef has opened chances for me to work in Australia and America, as well as some of Yorkshire’s finest hotels and restaurants.

And least?

I enjoy pretty much all elements of my work, but if I had one gripe it would be how many family get-togethers I have missed due to work commitments. What is your favourite game bird to cook at home? I love to cook partridge and grouse at home, and have family friends who regularly shoot and drop birds off. I taught my sons how to prepare them.

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

It’s all about timing, making sure nothing gets overcooked or dries out.

What game in particular benefits from hanging?

Venison and pheasant, I find both are a much nicer eat after hanging.

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

I would probably do a venison carpaccio to start and follow up with roast grouse done in the traditional way.

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

I like to always have venison on the menu. And there’s a pigeon dish with celeriac and a rosemary granola, which is very popular.

What makes game special?

Cooked and handled correctly game is versatile and tastes delicious. It’s pretty healthy as well. Venison is much better for you than other red meats.

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

The best way is to come up with really inventive and exciting sounding dishes.

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

I had a venison dish in London at St. John’s in Farringdon, with salt baked vegetables and an amazing sauce made from roasted bones; so simple but perfectly executed with the flavour of venison leaping off the plate. Worst was at a family friend’s house (I won’t name names), pheasant so dry it would have given a cracker a run for its money.

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

No. I will eat literally anything!