2014 Coastal New England Rising Star Hotel Chef James Hackney of Twenty-Eight Atlantic

2014 Coastal New England Rising Star Hotel Chef James Hackney of Twenty-Eight Atlantic
April 2014

James Hackney had an early, enviable introduction to the culinary world. A native of Leicestershire, England, Hackney first encountered cuisine through the lens of his parents’ Garden Hotel, a charming English countryside inn where farm-to-table was a way of life long before it was a catchphrase within the culinary profession. Reasonably enamored by a life in cuisine, and having worked his way from dishwasher to prep cook with his parents, Hackney completed his culinary education at Southfields College in Leicester.

Hackney then moved on to award-winning country-house hotel Stapleford Park before hopping the pond to work at Blantyre in Lenox, Massachusetts, also traveling down to Florida to work at La Vieille Maison and Charlie Palmer’s Aquaterra, in the off-season. Hackney next became chef de cuisine at Boston’s renowned L’Espalier. Now at the helm of Twenty-Eight Atlantic at Wequassett Resort and Golf Club, Hackney is firmly ensconced on American shores, fusing his British sensibility with the seasons of coastal New England.


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Interview with Coastal New England Rising Star Chef James Hackney of Twenty-Eight Atlantic at Wequassett Resort and Golf Club – East Harwich, MA

Antoinette Bruno: How did you get your start cooking?
James Hackney: My parents were in the industry, so I worked with my father quite a lot. My father was the manager of a collection of hotels in Rutland, England, and then they ended up having their own little restaurant. I attended culinary school at Southfield’s in Leicestershire.

AB: How do you contribute to the larger food community?                                                   
JH: We’re getting more involved with the fishermen down by Chatham pier. We just did a sustainability thing with them pulling the fish right from the pier and bringing them to the restaurant. There’s a community in Chatham where all the fishermen are buying up all the fishing licenses and storing them in the bank for the future. I advocate local seafood. I work with a local oyster gentleman, Steve Wright, in Chatham—the Oyster Pond—and Pat Woodberry in Wellfleet. I’ve been working with him for about 12 to 15 years now. We participate in Taste of Chatham and Taste of Harwich, too.

AB: What has been your proudest professional accomplishment so far?                                                                                                                   
JH: Coming here, taking over the resort. Being with Frank was huge, and moving to the Mandarin Oriental with him was great, but it was still always under his umbrella. So breaking away from that and going out on my own has been great for me.

AB: Who has been your mentor?                                                                                            
JH: Frank Plymouth at L’Espalier.

AB: Where do you see yourself in five years?                                                                                            
JH: I’m hoping still here. I’m hoping the next two to three years is when I’m really going to start branching out. The owner and managing partner have been here for 26 years, and are really looking to change and move up with the times. Having winters off gives me good time for research, dining out, traveling around. I really want to endorse this change, build up my repertoire of dining out.

I want to keep hold of Cape Cod classics, but I also want to wow guests with new presentations. Right now, that means the freshness of summer; herbs from the garden. For hot summer days, I like create light, refreshing summer salads.