What's it like to be the head of 14 restaurants across the globe? With your dishes and concepts gracing the dining scene of Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, New York, Sydney, Dubai and London? Do you ever get to sit down? Do you ever get to eat anything you don't cook? Or do you ever even get to cook anymore? These are some of the questions that vexed us as we took in the empire that Jason Atherton has constructed over his career.
We were also just plain curious to know what a typical day is like for chef at the top of his game, doing what he loves to do.
Jason humoured us on a recent visit to HK and let us in on some of his daily rituals and, most importantly, what he likes to eat, in an average day in the life of Jason Atherton.
Wake up 6.30am: The first thing I do is have a coffee. After that I call my two daughters for school. Getting them ready can be fun! I prepare breakfast for the family, usually cereal, fresh fruit, granola, toast and juice and then we all pile into the car and my wife Irha and I drop the girls off to school and then we both head to the office.
8.30am – 12pm: I’m usually in the office by 8.30am. I catch up with my team, attend any meetings I have scheduled in my diary then I pop to the gym around 11am for a session with my trainer before lunch service at my flagship restaurant Pollen Street Social.
Around 3pm: I’m a late eater. I usually have lunch around 3pm or as soon as we are done with service. I will eat whatever is on the staff menu in the restaurant with my team. It can be anything from a pasta dish to fresh fish and salad. I usually try to avoid dessert or sweet things mid-week and keep my diet as healthy as possible. I save the sweet things for when I’m dining out at the weekend.
3pm – 6pm: My days are never the same. If I’m in London, I will usually spend my time between meetings, photoshoots, working with my teams on new projects or launches and spending time with my chef’s to work on new recipes and dish development.
6pm – 11pm: Monday to Friday I do dinner service at the restaurant. I rotate service between Pollen Street Social, Berners Tavern, City Social and my latest Japanese restaurant Sosharu, which we recently launched in Clerkenwell in London. Dinner I will usually have in the restaurant I am working in – something light and seasonal. My days finish after the last guest is served and then I travel home to my sleeping family and get to bed around 1am.
Sosharu, Jason's latest restaurant in Clerkenwell, London
Weekends for me however are family time – I generally as a rule don’t work weekends and use this time to catch up with my girls. Family time is very important to me as I don’t get to see them enough during the week.
Midweek my life is very much work unless I am attending an event or an awards ceremony. Weekends are for the fun stuff. I take the kids to the park, we dine out in great restaurants, spend time shopping at my favourite store – Selfridges (I’m a bit of a fashion nut!). I am not a big partier but I do occasionally like to let my hair down and on those nights you will usually find me at the bar at Chiltern Firehouse.
12am – 1am: I usually have a little snack before bed – something like a cheese toastie and some tea, I check my emails – with restaurants all over the world there are always emails coming through so it’s a good time to catch up. After that I head to bed ready to do it all over again!
Ham & Cheese Toastie with 63 degree egg from Aberdeen Street Social