James Campbell has what many people would consider to be one of the best jobs in the world. He has tasted over 140 Japanese pastries in just one week. He has also had 27 pastries in one day. Campbell works for Marks and Spencer as a dessert product developer. Campbell and his team played an important role in the sell out success of Jaffa Sphere. He is currently visiting Tokyo to find new inspiration.
Even though Japan may seem like an odd place to get pastry ideas, many of the patisserie chefs in this country are world leaders. Many of the chefs in Japan have studied in Paris. They put their own twist on the things that they have learned.
Campbell says the Japanese Chefs are very precise. They put a lot of detail into the products that they make. You can find European-Style Patisseries just about anywhere in Japan. Isetan is one of the most popular stores in Tokyo. It has more than 30 patisserie concessions on just one floor. Isetan has more patisseries than the United Kingdom department stores.
Mr. Campbell has worked alongside Gary Rhodes. He has also worked as the head chef at London’s Mandarin Oriental. Mr. Campbell started working at Mark & Spencer’s in 2013 and has been creating a stir already. He created the Belgian Chocolate Jaffa Sphere, which was named the sexiest dessert in Britain in 2013. It also became one of Marks and Spencer’s fastest selling desserts of all time. Marks and Spencer is known for creating desserts that are geared towards customers who have high-end tastes.
Mr. Campbell says that there has been an increased demand for patisserie-style, professional desserts. The challenges of shows like the Great British Bakeoff and Masterchef are becoming more difficult. That is why many people are opting to get ready-made desserts instead of creating the desserts themselves. Mr. Campbell says that he aims to give people show-stopping, restaurant-quality desserts.
Marks and Spencers team plans to travel the world in order to find inspiration for a new dessert. Many people wonder what they can expect to see after Mr. Campbell returns from Japan. He says that he will not be giving away all of his secrets. However, Mr. Campbell has given a few hints. He says that the desserts will most likely be fused with passion fruit and yuzu flavours. He also says that there will be a focus on seasonality. This is one of the keys to Japanese cooking.
Campbell says that Marks and Spencer will be including seasonal British ingredients in the desserts. This includes things like damsons, rhubard and gooseberry. Osami Kubota works at Palace Hotel Tokyo and is the executive pastry chef. He has stated that using seasonal ingredients was what help set his patisserie apart from all of the other ones in Japan.
Green tea is used in many Japanese desserts, including kit kat bars and ice cream. However, Campbell says that the British palette is not quite ready for this. Green tea, Earl grey and other blends are used as perfumes instead of flavours. Mark and Spencers launched Earl Grey chocolates and matcha (green tea) chocolates in January 2015.
Mr. Campbell has stated that he still has a sweet tooth. During the average week, he tastes between 100 and 200 desserts. When he is trying a new cheesecake recipe, he can take up to 50 cheesecakes. Campbell has stated that he keeps himself in shape by running 13 or 14 miles per week.
Interestingly, Campbell stated that he wanted to have a career in accounting. However, his plans changed when he left school at the age of 17. He took a job at Cameron Hotel Restaurant as a commis chef. The experience that he had showed him he could potentially have a successful career in the food services industry.
Mr. Campbell says that having a career as a chef is very rewarding, and it allows one to create their own destiny. Chefs are known for working very long hour. Mr. Campbell stated that his day would start at 5:30 in the morning, and he would not leave the job until 12:00 A.M. Even though it was very hard work, Mr. Campbell enjoyed the discipline of it.
Even though Campbell enjoys working long hours, he decided to slow down a bit after the birth of his two children, who are now four and six. He still works hard, but he no longer puts in 20 hour days. Campbell says that his driven by his desire to improve. He says that his mother often asks him when he will realize that he is good at what he does. He replies by saying he is never satisfied because there is always room for improvement. Campbell says that being a chef helps him stay on his toes.