JANE MONTGOMERY - LEITH'S SCHOOL OF FOOD & WINE
Leiths school of food and wine is the undeniable premier cooking school in the UK. Where most cooking schools either focus solely on specific cooking styles or rely on traditional techniques; Leiths offers an unrivalled variety of classes (both traditional and modern) in the food and beverage world. We sit down with one of the school's brightest stars, Jane Montgomery, and take a closer look at life outside the classroom.
PAST KITCHENS & ROLES
Diverse free lancing from catering, consultancy, writing, teaching, restaurant dabbling and food media.
DESERT ISLAND DISH & DISC
Fleetwood mac, Rumours or The Miseducation of Lauren Hill
Fish, chips and mushy peas.
Gin and tonics would be a great addition.
Tell us briefly about what you do, day to day?
Every day is different at Leiths. When the diploma is running we have a 9am meeting to discuss the running of the kitchen sessions (recipes, objectives, method specifics etc...), then into the kitchens to give a run through and teach the 16 students you are taking that day.
Other days could include demonstrating, writing/planning up coming classes, recipe testing or teaching an amateur course.
What inspired you to get into cooking?
My whole family live to eat. My mum was a huge influence, teaching me from a young age to cook and bake as well as ensuring the house was always full of people and food. The kitchen is my zen place of happiness whether for work or pleasure.
What was your very first job? Tell us about it.
My first real job was working for Audi UK on my placement year at university, even the amazing cars couldn’t keep me on the office path. My first jobs in food were my initial stages in restaurant kitchens, Providores, Tom’s kitchen…..intimidating and exciting but once you fall in love with food, you’re done.
Which ingredients do you have a love/hate relationship with?
Primarily I have a very sweet tooth so chocolate is never far out of reach. I’m also a massive fan of beetroot - pickled, roasted, pureed….whichever way I’ll take the earthy goodness.
I’m sensitive to texture so I have a strong dislike surrounding pappy or slimy foods such as mushy apples, raw tomatoes, recently I discovered cactus…
Which Chef inspires you the most?
There’s a lot of choice in the current climate but Robin Gill has done some great things since The Dairy in Clapham and the opening of The Manor. I love the seasonal simplicity of ingredients and nose to tail eating ethos. The Dairy’s bloodshot events are also a great addition to the London food scene.
What would be your last supper and who would cook it?
Old friends. Classic roast with all the trimmings followed by lemon meringue pie cooked by my friend Katie, she does the best roast potatoes.
Favourite junk food/ guilty pleasure?
Chip butty (in a white bap), I’m a northern girl so sometimes carbs on carbs are required, mostly on a hangover.
What would you like to change about the restaurant industry?
Making great food accessible and reducing the snobbery around what makes food news-worthy. I think it’s already changed since the days of 80s fine dining especially with the dawn of the street food, café/brunch culture and produce becoming the focus. London has a way to go to rival somewhere like Sydney who revel in their local bakeries as much as their fine dining.
Who would be in your fantasy dinner party?
Grace Kelly, Barack Obama, Steven Fry, Joanna Lumley, Dawn French, Bill Bryson, Nina Simone, John Cusack. Everyone brings something different to the table: inspiring, entertaining, great stories, humour.
What does the future hold for yourself?
We are just beginning the advanced term of the diploma which is an interesting and exciting term to demonstrate in and inspire the students. The summer brings an opportunity to branch out into the industry, I’m hoping to spend some time working at an inspiring restaurant such as Salon in Brixton or Sexy Fish in Mayfair. Overall I’m looking to progress and mentor my own class at Leiths.