Chef profile - Jason Ioakeim, the driving force behind Bond Street Restaurant & Bar in Hull

There can’t be many people who were inspired to become a chef by the Olympics, but Hull-based, Greek-born Jason Ioakeim is one of them.

Jason is looking forward to dishing up plates rather than takeaway boxes. (Dave Lee).

When the 2004 games were held in Athens, he became a team leader in the Olympic Village, liaising between athletes, coaches, administrators and, significantly, the hospitality and catering teams.

Being multilingual, Jason found himself talking in detail to the kitchen staff about the dietary requirements of the athletes and, as a result, realised he had already acquired extensive culinary skills from his mother (a keen baker) and from watching his father cook family meals.

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After the Olympics, Jason followed his brother – who was studying in the city – to Hull After a catering course at Hull College, he took several jobs in pubs, bars and restaurants in the East Riding, including a period under Matthew Barker at the Westwood in Beverley and as a sous chef at Cerruttis in Hull.

Falafel balls are one of his many dishes. (Dave Lee).

Jason has now taken the step of opening his own restaurant, with a very intriguing theme. Bond Street Restaurant & Bar will offer meat and non-meat versions of most dishes on the Mediterranean-style menu.

So, rather than being a restaurant for carnivores that has a few vegan alternatives, or a dedicated vegan restaurant, diners will be able to order dishes designed to achieve the same blend of flavours whether there is meat on the plate or not. The pork belly, for instance, has the same prominence on the menu as the tofu-based version of the same dish.

As with so many plans at the moment, it has been delayed by lockdown, but Jason is offering takeaway versions of his dishes until he can finally open properly.

Can you remember the first dish you ever cooked – and was it a success? The first thing I can recall was really basic. I’d have probably been about 11 when we made pizza in food technology at school.

Just a simple pizza. I took it home to my parents and they said they liked it. They’re pretty honest and I think I would have heard if they didn’t.

Who is your inspiration in the kitchen and why? I remember watching Kitchen Confidential, which was based on the book by Anthony Bourdain, and thinking how it showed how classically-trained chefs take big risks that, when they work out, result in really great and unexpected food.

It inspired me to take risks with recipes and ingredients and remember that you’re always learning when you’re in the kitchen.

What was the first recipe book you ever owned? I’ve never really had traditional recipe books but I had a very small notebook that I used to copy recipes from my mum and dad or from their recipe books. I still have it at home and dip into it now and again. It was a great help at college and got filled while I was studying there.

If you organised a dinner party, which three people would you invite and why? My mother, because she would be the best critic and tell me what was good or bad about the food. Ian Sneddon, who was head of the catering department at Hull College when I was there, just because he has been a massive influence on me.

I shadowed him for a while and I’d like to show him what I’ve achieved since. And, finally, Anthony Bourdain for his views on my food and the stories he would tell.

What is your favourite ingredient and why? It sounds boring, but it’s a potato. They have unlimited potential. There are hundreds of ways to use a potato and every one of them is delicious.

What have you done in lockdown? The first few weeks I tried to set up a plant-based ingredient company, just to try and move something forward while the restaurant was in limbo.

When it became apparent that nothing could be effectively achieved during lockdown, though, I decided to relax and enjoy the break.