Chef Talk: Jason Atherton @ Table No.1

Talented British chef and restaurateur, Jason Atherton, was in Shanghai last month for the re-opening of Table No.1. We sat down with the chef to chew the fat and get his recipe for smoked brisket.
Talk: What was the initial concept for Table No.1?
Jason Atherton: For Table No.1, I wanted to open somewhere that was a destination restaurant with world cuisine but with and extra focus on British cuisine.
T: The restaurant is five years old. How do you ensure that it stays relevant in the fast growing metropolis?
JA: We are constantly changing and evolving. Our menus change with the seasons and I employ staff who have a real feel for what I want, and know how to nurture that.
T: How has the Shanghai restaurant scene changed since you first opened in 2010?
JA: A lot! When I opened there weren’t many modern restaurants doing the kind of food we do. The restaurant scene has evolved in Shanghai and continues to do so which is exciting for the city. Competition is a positive thing.
T: Do you cater towards a Western palate when creating your dishes in Shanghai, or do you believe that Chinese restaurant goers are happy to accept Western flavours?
JA: I think that Chinese people are more open about trying new cuisine and willing to challenge their palate, so for me the restaurant is open to everyone who enjoys good food.
T: How much creative leeway do you give to Chef de Cuisine, Christopher Pitts, and Executive Chef, Scott Melvin, when it comes to the restaurant?
JA: I allow my chefs a lot of creativity. They wouldn’t be on my team unless I trusted them and believed in what they can do. Chris is a talented chef. He knows what I expect of him and he delivers.

T: On your flying visits to Shanghai, is there a place you must visit or a food you must eat to make your trip complete?

JA: For me, I just want to keep trying new things, so whatever is new and interesting out there, I’ll be sure to try it.
T: With restaurants all over the world, and your name on the door, how do you maintain a level of quality that meets your high standards?
JA: I have the best possible team around me. They know my high standards and I know I can trust them to deliver – it’s definitely a matter of trust.
T: Being your first independent restaurant venture, does Table No. 1 hold a special place in your heart? 
JA: For sure – it was a dream come true for me. It’s every chef ’s dream to own their own restaurant.
T: What is your best food memory from any country in the world?
JA: Now that’s a hard one. There are so many! I’ve had a lot of amazing meals, but one that really stands out for me was Thomas Keller’s restaurant The French Laundry in Yountville. It was our 10-year wedding anniversary last year and we celebrated it there – it was all round a very special night, the food was out of this world.
T: If the world were coming to an end, what would your last meal be?
JA: Beans on toast. It takes me back to my childhood and is a real comfort food for me.
Charcoal Roasted Wagyu Brisket
  • Shaved onions
  • House pickle
For the rub
  • 1g kosher salt
  • 350g brown sugar
  • 120g mustard powder
  • 120g smoked paprika
  • 120g black pepper
  • Let meat dry for at least 2 days On the day of cooking (one day before eating) turn on the smoker at 8:30pm – Temperature: 115 °C. Time: 13 hours. Smoke: 2 hours
  • Put rub on the brisket in the morning. Take brisket out at 6:30pm and allow it to sit for a few hours at room temperature.
  • Put the brisket in at 9:30pm. After one hour, add more wood chips.
  • The next morning, when the timer is finished, take the brisket out, cover with plastic wrap and then cover with foil. Allow the meat to sit for at least one hour before serving.
Table No.1. The Waterhouse Hotel, The Cool Docks, 1/F, 1-3 Maojiayuan Lu, near Zhongshan Nan Lu. Tel: 6080 2918. Web: