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 James Fincham    Matthew Donaldson 2021  
 

Our series of River Cafe chefs and their favourite recipes continues with James Fincham who has worked in the restaurant for seventeen years. When he is not cooking, James is building furniture, designing and sewing clothes, and creating beautiful ceramics. 

‘Some ingredients turn up when you’re not ready for them and some you start looking forward to well before they appear.
Our figs are definitely well anticipated. 
Just when we are getting complacent, along come the Italian figs to remind you there’s still a bit more before autumn arrives.
Fresh cannellini and black figs are a fantastic combination. When you speak to new chefs about this dish you can see the look of uncertainty.
All I can say is 'trust me'.
The perfectly ripe figs and warm beans together are special.
Add basil and mint, and this becomes one of the summer’s menu highlights.
When I started at The River Cafe in 2004 I remember being given a tour of the kitchen. Asked to try a strawberry. I said it was very nice -  the chef said they were not considered good enough and would be returned to the supplier in the morning.
I was blown away by her standard of the quality expected of the produce. To me this is what makes The River Cafe what it is - choosing the incredible ingredients we cook with every day.’


Fig and Cannellini Salad
12 ripe figs (black or green)
200ml extra virgin olive oil 
1 bunch of fresh green basil
1 bunch of fresh purple basil 
1 bunch of fresh mint
A selection of salad leaves, including rocket (about 100g per person)
300g cooked cannellini beans
juice of 1 lemon

Slice the figs and spread out on a large plate. Season wand drizzle over half of the extra virgin olive oil. 
Warm the cannellini beans in their cooking liquid, drain and season. 
In a large bowl, combine the figs and warm cannellini, stirring well. Gently toss through the herb leaves. Add lemon juice, and extra virgin olive oil. 
 

Black figs    Matthew Donaldson 

Photography by Matthew Donaldson

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