A hospitality veteran, James Gingell has worked in hospitality for three decades working in hotels and restaurants around the country before eventually settling in Bury. Now the 54-year-old, who also recently written book I Think I Want To Be A Chef – The Stinky Chef Chronicles, is shared owner of Tre Ciccio Ramsbottom and Tre Ciccio Altrincham as well as owning The Stinky Chef Deli in Rawtenstall, where he also runs supper clubs serving seasonal plates.

Tell us a little about The Stinky Chef

The idea was dreamt around 2016, initially as a vehicle to write stories and publish recipes on a blog. This later evolved into a deli where I could showcase products from around the Mediterranean then later service the Rossendale community with a seasonal, weekly changing menu of restaurant quality dishes via my deli in Rawtenstall.

Why did you decide to write a book?

I feel lucky with what I’ve experienced and the colourful characters I have met. Rather than just reminisce I decided to document my life as a chef with a view to sharing my stories. During those long weeks in lockdown, I decided to pitch my idea to a number of publishers by sending an intro, first chapter and sample recipe. Having been well received an offer returned from a reputable publishing house enquiring whether I could send the full finished manuscript – with the book only being a third written I continued writing with excitement.

When you write about something you are passionate about then the words just flow. The full manuscript was finally packaged six months after the initial offer – all I had to do then was wait.

What is the secret to a successful career as a chef?

Listen, communicate, use your common sense and most importantly have fun because you will be working a ridiculous number of hours for a small financial return - you need to enjoy yourself.

First dish you learned to cook?

I was a commis chef on the vegetable/garnish section and cooked gratin dauphinoise where the potatoes were hand-peeled then thinly sliced on a lethal mandolin contraption. Overlapped and meticulously layered in a deep roasting tray, bathed with a garlic infused cream, then baked in the oven - so golden and gratinated.

Most vivid childhood food memory?

Picking sour cooking apples from my Grandma’s tree, cutting them up and sprinkling them with sugar. Feeling creative but shocked that none of my family wanted to devour them.

Most memorable meal out?

Alastair Little’s accalaimed restaurant on Frith Street, Soho, London. Exciting, unpretentious eclectic, brasserie- style food packed with flavour.

Favourite ingredient?

Cheese – the stinkier the better.

Your go-to snack?

Cheese on toast.

If you weren't a chef, what would you be doing?

I would be involved in travel, I don’t like the routine of the day-to day – I like variety, seeing new things and meeting different people and exploring new places.

Your dream dinner guest, and why?

Anthony Bourdain RIP. A humble chef with great stories to tell.

What's your guilty food pleasure?

Fish, chips and mushy peas with loads of salt and vinegar.

Who are your Lancashire food and drink heroes?

Paul Heathcote, Nigel Haworth and Reg Johnson.

A hospitality industry person who inspires?

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

A place you love to eat?

Erst, Ancoats, Manchester

What has been a career highlight?

Getting a job at the Alphen hotel, Constantia in Cape Town as a chef- de- partie. Then going on to run the full operation at 22 whilst the head chef was on a six-week vacation – a steep learning curve and when I started to take my career more seriously.

What's next for you and The Stinky Chef?

Tre Ciccio will continue to evolve and hopefully expand further in a better economic climate. No immediate plans for the Stinky Chef apart from our themed monthly supper clubs that will restart up in 2024. We would like to push our products more to a wider market like our award-winning Stinky Bomba sauce. Personally, I’ve started writing a fiction/crime novel with a ‘cheffy’ storyline.

What wish do you have for 2024?

Future success for Tre Ciccio and The Stinky Chef and all those involved. Health and happiness.

My favourite dish

‘Sea bass cooked in ‘crazy Water’. This moist fresh seabass with a spicy, flavoursome herb-infused broth is enhanced with that magical ingredient nduja,’ says James.


Great British Life: ‘Sea bass cooked in ‘crazy water’. ‘Sea bass cooked in ‘crazy water’. (Image: James Gingell)