Say hello to Jamie, the reason our bread tastes so good!

Our Head Chef Jamie Tubb is the reason everything on our menu tastes great, but in honour of #RealBreadWeek we thought it was a fitting time to introduce him. Read on to enjoy a little interview we did with The Man with The Pan…and other kitchen utensils…

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What made you become a chef?

I wanted to travel originally. I didn’t want to travel, travel. I just wanted to be able to work wherever I wanted to live. This was when I was 14 when I was thinking this. I was thinking “I just want to go everywhere.” So my Dad helped me…he said “just be a chef I guess” and I was like “That’s a great idea” and I love food so it worked out!

What were your first steps?

I got work experience. My dad knew a friend that worked in Brown’s restaurant at the top of Park Street in Bristol, so I did work experience and straight away they liked me and I liked doing the work. So I worked Friday nights and Saturday nights when I was 15, then as soon as I finished school at 16, I started working there, but I was only allowed to do long weekends, as you can’t work that much at that age. So I just worked when they needed me.

Kept you out of trouble?

Yep. In a way! And then when I felt like I could move away, I moved down to Cornwall to work in a nice hotel called Watergate Bay Hotel, just outside of Newquay. That was when I was 17. So you can imagine…I was free, by myself in Cornwall…it was great! I just surfed all the time!

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What kind of food do you love to cook the most?

I love cooking food that I love to eat. So anything veggie is my favourite as I’m a vegetarian. But I’ve been a chef for a long time and we cook meat here, so obviously I taste meat and cook with it. It did mean that when I first cooked a sample menu for Stony Street House I ended up doing mostly veggie dishes, so of course I had to add some great meat ingredients, like nduja. But in general I love cooking healthy, veg-based dishes and I love cheese!

So vegetables and cheese inspire you the most?

Yeah, but I spent so much time in the Mediterranean on yachts, that I picked up lots of tricks and passions along the way. I love Barcelona - the street food there is amazing! I love tapas and sharing food. Me and my wife always go for tapas. Pintxo in Bath is one of my favourites.

Do you have any heroes in food?

Not really, to be honest. I learnt from travelling and that is what has made me the chef I am.

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Nice. So what made you settle in Frome?

Well although I grew up just outside Bristol and probably came through Frome a few times, I didn’t know it. But when me and my wife moved back from France, we like to cycle, so we cycled here, by accident, and stopped off at The River House before we ever knew anything about Frome.

So you literally stumbled across Frome? So it’s kind of like fate?

Yeah! And now we’re so excited to be moving here.

Where were you in France and what were you doing there?

I had a little restaurant in Morzine where we made pizzas and really nice Thai dishes. It’s a French ski resort, but there’s a lot of English people around, so we did Fish & Chips! Because English people loved it! Even if they’re only over for a week, people still want Fish & Chips!

So how come you decided to run a restaurant in Morzine?

Me and my wife earned a load of money from working on yachts. We were going to move back home to Somerset and buy a house. But the opportunity came up in Morzine so we were like “Let’s do that instead!” So we prolonged our plans to buy a house by five years and stayed in the mountains and enjoyed our youth!

Did you learn some French?

Ha! It’s really hard! As much as I wanted to…I was never very good at learning it at school, I always wanted to go skateboarding instead, so blame skateboarding!

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So how did you join the Stony Street House team?

Well I heard about it when I was doing my Christmas shopping here with Jade. At the time I was working as a Sous Chef, helping out my friend Tony who had just bought The Bunch of Grapes in Bradford On Avon. I had just come back from France and so I came on board to help out and I did! We got two AA rosettes pretty much in four months. So we did well and then we got the busy period out the way when I came across an advertisement for a Head Chef for Stony Street House. Jade said “You could do that!” so next thing I know I’m having a meeting with Kent. I had a terrible cold at the time, but when he told me his whole concept and ethos behind the place, I knew I wanted to be Head Chef. I love pizza, I love wine - it’s perfect!

And the people?

On they’re lovely. Sarah and Olivia I met in my second interview and they were as excited as everyone else about this project. I think that’s why this place is going to work. Because everyone, from the start, is going to enjoy themselves working here.

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How are you feeling about your wood fired oven?

Well, it’s a challenge - definitely more or an art than a science. But when I was in France I had a business I started called El Asado which is an Argentinian banqueting style of eating. Me and my friend made massive BBQ fire pits with iron frames that we hung legs of lamb from which we slow cooked. It was amazing! For the visuals and proper feasting food, cooked over hardwood fires. All the meat was locally sourced. But we also grilled lots of vegetables rolled in chard leaves, cooked on a plancha on the fire - ah - it was so nice!

What’s your favourite thing on the menu?

Well, I’ve got a big old passion for bread and sourdough, so probably the bruschetta, the bread and oils and the pizzas. It’s all homemade in the kitchen!

So what’s so special about your bread?

Well it’s 300 years old to start with!

No pun intended! So how is it 300 years old?

Basically, a friend’s friend did a bread course in Russia 30 years ago and the bakery then gave all their students a bit of their starter which by then was mega old and in the family business for hundreds of years. So then that guy gave it to my friend who has kept it alive and now we have it at Stony Street where we will use it for another 100 years or more…!

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So our bread is ‘From Russia With Love’?!

Well, yes, but my love affair with bread actually started through my friend Max who taught me sourdough making. He has his own sourdough business in the Cotswolds called Sourdough Revolution. He gave me some of his 40 year old starter at the start to get me going!

What else do you love about SSH?

Probably all the suppliers. Getting fresh, local produce like Penleigh Butchers next door, Ivy House doing our dairy, but also Rupert’s Eggs, who’s a really small business who I worked with before in Bradford on Avon. I love having local connections - your little family of local businesses! It’s a big deal to us that all our suppliers are local, from Somerset and Wiltshire…Because I was always travelling or abroad before, jumping off boats and grabbing the best ingredients I could, it’s really nice to be settling here and building up a community of local suppliers.

What is most exciting you right now in the food industry?

Probably the idea that everyone is loving vegetarian and vegan food. Just because I love it! And the more it spreads, the better it is for the planet. I really don’t like to be preachy, so I never go on about it but I guess that’s pretty exciting.

Well that seems like a great place to end. Thanks Jamie! We hope you’ve enjoyed your second week at Stony Street House - the best new restaurant in Frome!