Jamie Savage is a chef, entrepreneur and all round “chap” who is the brains behind “Savages Mussels” which brings sea food and in particular mussels into everyday meals.
Delights such as Mussel burgers or Mussel Mac n Cheese have introduced sea food to a whole new audience and recently his mussel based stout has hit the shelves enabling connoisseurs another way to enjoy Jamie’s passion of the fruits of the sea!
Viewers of Gordon Ramsey’s Future food stars would have also seen Jamie in action, and may have even caught a glimpse of him in some Merc clobber. Music and clothes are as important to Jamie as food, and with a strong “soul boy/Mod background, we were delighted to find out he was a fan of heritage clothing such as Merc!! (Gordon Ramseys Future Food stars available to watch on BBC iPlayer)
Merc was delighted to sit down with Jamie and “catch” (see what we did there?) up on all things Culinary and Clothing!!
We gotta start by saying “why mussels?” Where did your love of them come from?
I just love them! And if I love them then you are going to love them too! Haha, in all honesty, I’ve just been intrigued by seafood since going to France as a child. There wasn’t much option for seafood growing up in Stockport in the 90’s apart from the local Italian that we went to on birthdays, so when I got the chance to try any shellfish, I did and just fell in love with mussels.Its when I was a chef in the Royal Navy that I had this idea of a Mussels bar, so I started to develop my menu, trying out ideas and recipes whenever I could and when the time was right, I took the chance to showcase what id been dreaming of for years by hosting pop-ups in and around Manchester, then it all took off from there.
Have you always wanted to be involved in the food and hospitality industry?
Ive been in hospitality since I was 13, washing dishes and waiting on, but, I wanted to be a graphic designer. I loved art but working in an office wasn’t for me, I need to be active and doing things so my stint at that didn’t last long and joined the navy at 19 as a chef.
When did you start to realise that there was a opening for the “savages mussel” experience?
When the food scene started changing with street food and that, that’s when I thought this was the right time and started to develop my dishes for restaurant and street food. No one does what I do, trying to put mussels into every dish possible so I needed to fill that gap in the market and change peoples views and myths on mussels.
How did you start to promote what is essentially a “niche market”
I always knew I was going to be the underdog! But that pushed me more.People that eat mussels love them and I wanted to promote the benefits of eating mussels and get people eating them in different ways like they have never been done before. I did a Mussel burger, popcorn mussels, Mac n cheese with mussels, even dishes where mussels were the sauce. I was basically hiding them and showing how diverse they can be and it worked! The amount of people that have never eaten mussels before in their lives that now come to me on a regular basis is unreal. It has taken time but I have enjoyed taking the time to show people how delicious they are and how good for you they are.
Your menus are pretty varied and offer a range of taste experiences, where does your ideas and inspirations come from?
I think of dishes that I love and see how I can incorporate mussels into them. Its a bit mad really. Then my plated dishes I treat as though im in a fine dining restaurant and add mussels again, by using all my favourite seafood and flavours but also making every dish appealing to the eye. People can be a bit squeamish when it comes to mussels.
You also do a “Savages Mussel Stout” which is a brilliant idea - how’s that being received?
I have wanted to do this for years! In the first lockdown I thought, fuck it! After a few test recipes I got the flavour and body right and took it to Toms Tap in Crewe to get a full brew on. Its had an amazing response. Its close to Guinness. Plus there a little Spotify code on the can to listen to a playlist of some of my favourite tunes.
What’s your personal favourite on the Savages Mussels menu?
Its got to be Chilli, Lemon & Garlic Mussels with King Prawns! Its the perfect combination. My favourite special was definitely Nachos with Mussel-con-Carne, absolutely banging and another dish to show off how diverse mussels can be.
How did your television appearance on Gordon Ramsey “Future Food Stars” come about?
I saw the advertisement on Gordons Instagram in December 2019! It was more of an entrepreneur cooking show and I thought that was right up my street and a good way to get a bit of advertising for mussels. Plus, I think he’s a legend! I wanted him to try my food and learn from the best.
Amongst cooking there were some pretty full on challenges, what was the hardest thing you had to do?
I mean, I loved every minute of it although it was fucking stressful! GR breathing down your neck and you knew you hadn’t done your best with all the pressure and working with others that you’re not used to working with. We all had our own businesses so we all wanted to run with everything.
What did working and cooking with Gordon Ramsey teach you?
It tought me not to drop fucking sausages on the floor of The Savoy! Haha, I got a big FUCK SAKE for that! He taught me to let go a bit, take the pressure off myself and that I can go simple and it can still be beautiful. And to continue being confident in what I do. I really respect him.
Have you noticed a people treating you differently since you appeared on the show?
Yeah!! At both ends but 99% positive. Loads of pictures, people travelling from miles away just to eat from me, one couple drove 120 miles! Its definitely had a posit affect on my business and loads more Liam Gallagher look alike jokes!!
Can’t help but notice you’ve a love of clothes (even rocked a bit of Merc on the show) how would you describe your style?
I rocked a few Merc shirts, got away with that considering it was BBC! I’m into music, grew up on Bowie and Northern Soul so my parents always dressed well. I like to look smart, love the MOD look and I just love a bit of random clobber! Got the Manc/MOD haircut and enjoy dressing well, don’t want to look like a bag of shit. But MOD at heart even though I do mix it up a little bit, always top button up no matter what!
Where did your love of clothes and the Subculture come from?
I basically hate looking the same as everyone. Why be fucking boring and follow the crowd. Follow what you love ind fuck it. Growing up, we didn’t have mega amounts of money so wanted to look good with what we could. Id like to say I had the balls to dress as I wanted, I got took the piss out of a bit but just went with it. Id definitely say my parents and their music influenced me for sure. And with my love of music, why not go out looking like you’re in a band!
What would be your “go to look” when you arnt wearing and apron and hairnet?
Haha, no hairnets on this barnet! If its a doo, then my Fred Tassel Loafers, Straight Trouser, probably burgundy and a shirt with braces. Simple and effective. I have a big wardrobe, plenty to go off but I love my Fred Perry, Merc, Pretty Green and Vintage. Big collars are always a favourite.
When you are cooking do you have music on in the background?
Always!!! Its the first thing I do when I get in the kitchen, get the speakers on. Not a shiity radio.
What’s generally on “Savages Playlist “
Head to “Mussel Stout Playlist” and have a listen to some of my favourites. The ultimate dancing tune for me is Martha Reeves & The Vandellas- Heat Wave, I’m up straight away if I hear this tune. I was talking to the band The Enemy once in drum and I heard it on upstairs at the venue, just had to say sorry lads, I’ve gotta go, and legged it upstairs for a jive. Generally, its Rolling Stones, Northern, Bowie, 90s indie and 00s, bit of dance and anything that I think is good from any era. In love with Esther Phillips.
What’s next for “Savages Mussels”
I’m looking to expand, id love investment and have mussels bars up and down the country. For now, there’s some things in the peeling for supermarkets but I love what I do and want to enjoy it, get a good team behind me and when the time is right, just manage what restaurants I have wearing a 3 piece suit.
Where do you see your self in 5 years time?
In 5 years, on the shelves of super markets, a business partner and 3 Mussel Bars. I do also have a pancake and shakes place so that would be 4 in 5 years fingers crossed.
Who would be your Ultimate mate dinner party of 6 to cook for?
David Bowie/Keith Moon/Elvis/James Dean/Maralyn Monroe/Liam Gallagher hahaha
And what would you serve to them?
There will be mussels involved somewhere, a seafood platter and probably a burger for Elvis and LG. Loads of wine and the best bit of all, probably won’t need any allergy cards.
Describe Savages Mussels and the experience it offers in one sentence?
I create dishes using mussels and seafood. Cooking them in traditional and diverse ways, giving mussel lovers their fix and a chance to try mussels in different ways, but also giving mussel virgins a taste experience they have never had before and guarantee they will be coming back for more!
Quick Fire Fives
David Bowie- Hunky Dory / Rolling Stones- Let it bleed / Blur - Park Life (1st Album I bought) The Who - My Generation / Fleetwood Mac - Tango in the Night
5 items of clothing
Fred Perry- George Cox Tassel Loafers/ Fish tail Parka with all the wigan badges/pull over coat (love coats and jackets) /a good pair of socks/sunglasses
In Bruges/ Quadrophenia Obviously / The punk rock movie by Don Letts/Moulin Rouge/ Life of Brian
5 style icons
The lads from The Horrors/ John Lennon / My Dad / LG / Miles Kane
5 citys that need a Savages Mussels restaurant
Manchester/Liverpool/London/Brighton/New bloody York
Words by Richie Kyle
Pictures by Jamie Savage