John Williams MBE

“My love affair with grouse didn’t start that way.”

John Williams heads up the most traditional kitchen in the UK: The Ritz Hotel and its iconic restaurant that overlooks Green Park. If it’s grouse your after the minute the season starts then look no further if you want the best. John Williams likes game but he loves grouse. However, as he tells The Great Game Guide – it didn’t start out that way.

“My first job in the kitchen was plucking and gutting grouse and did not have a clue what it was as I came from the sea side it was in a court yard and I felt sick with the aromas. However, I learned to love the aromas and 40 years later I went back to where my first job was and looked in the courtyard and my memory went straight back to the 21st august 1974. I had an out of body experience of seeing my self plucking and gutting the grouse with all the aromas. It was quite emotional and if you ask anyone what happens in my kitchen on the 12th of August I am anxiously waiting for the first delivery so I may get that first wonderful aroma of the grouse and heather.”

“Game is massively important to me in our kitchen. I love wild food because it has a natural flavour that comes from the natural environment which gives it a distinctive flavour and seasonality.

“On the question of hanging I believe it is an important part of the process. I think it was overdone in the past but it has a part to play in breaking down the enzymes in the gut of the bird which will tenderise the meat. This takes between four and seven days before gutting to make sure it is ready for butchering and cooking.”