James de Bunsen is a Portfolio Manager on Janus Henderson Investors’ UK-based Multi-Asset Team, a position he has held since joining Henderson in 2013. In this role, James focuses on alternative asset classes and strategies. He is a Co-Fund Manager on Henderson Alternative Strategies Trust and has 13 years of financial industry experience. Prior to this, James spent several years working as a journalist and editor at a variety of business magazines. He graduated from the University of Manchester with a degree in ancient history and archaeology.
Out of the three ingredients for dining out –food, service, and environment – which is themost important for you?
Food by a healthy margin. I only really notice the service and environment if it’s really bad. Slow service and bad acoustics are usually the most likely ways to ruin my enjoyment.
Is there a chef you particularly admire, and if so why?
Delia Smith by a country mile. Apart from one notable half-time indiscretion, she’s been an absolute legend for Norwich City FC. I can’t say she’s ever cooked for me though. On that front, it would be Nathan Outlaw down in Cornwall who is an incredible chef.
Is there any aspect of dining out or contemporary cuisine that you find especially irritating?
The ‘small plates’ concept is becoming irritating. It just about works if there are two of you eating but any more and I find I miss out on the things I particularly wanted to eat. A starter and main course is much simpler and there’s no need to share, although my wife always gets food envy and stealsmy food anyway.
Describe your perfect dining companion.
Mrs de Bunsen obviously! (My wife, not my mother.Sorry Mum.) In spite of her tendency to eat my food.
How do you calculate value for money whenpaying for a meal?
I always feel like I’ve had really good value for money if the chef has done something amazing with some fairly simple ingredients and I know that I couldn’t recreate it at home.I also like finding good value obscure wines that compete well with their loftier, better-known counterparts.
How do you find a good restaurant in anunfamiliar location?
Ask a local but failing that my wife is very dedicated to finding the best places to eat. She treats every meal out asthough it were her last on earth and puts in hours of research.
Are there any food critics whose opinionsyou respect?
AA Gill is very hard to beat but I think Giles Coren and Marina O’Loughlin are both always worth a read.
Is there a single meal that stands out as the best you’ve ever enjoyed?
I’ve had some amazing tasting menus from Michelin-starred chefs but the one meal that’s real embedded in my memory was a fairly simple lunch just outside Lucca in Tuscany.We sat outside on a terrace in the Tuscan hills. There were only two choices of starter and main course. There werea lot of truffles involved and I had an incredibly simple, sublime lamb chop.
What’s the best hotel you’ve ever stayed in?
I used to be a travel journalist and was lucky enough to be put up in some pretty special luxury hotels. However, I’m a sucker for an amazing view, and staying in a corner room of a fairly basic hotel with one window looking out to sea and the other looking over Positano and the Amalfi coast was the most memorable.
And the most disappointing (with details)?
I’ve also stayed in quite a few budget hotels as well and usuallythey are fine as long as they are clean. I can’t single out onein particular but most of my least pleasant overnight stays have been when I could still smell the previous incumbent(s) of the room.
Do you cook for guests yourself?
Yes. I really enjoy cooking, except for when it comes to actually serving the food. I get a bit stressed if I’ve spent hours cooking and it gets a bit cold or something is notquite right.
Money is no object. Describe your perfectLast Supper (with wines).
Even though I don’t like small plates, my last supper would involve a lot of different dishes. I’d have to have some topnotch smoked salmon, crispy duck and pancakes, my mother’sroast lamb, steak frites from L’Entrecote, Sicilian tomato and fennel sausage pasta and some hard cheese like a Comte.It would be hard to find wines that go with all of that buta high-end Chablis and a grand cru from Bordeaux wouldbe good, plus a Beaumes de Venise dessert wine to finish.