Faces of Folkestone: James Pearce

MF: Can you sum up what Folkestone means to you?

JP: I have always loved Folkestone. I like the regeneration of it, because it seems to be one of the few seaside gentrifications that has managed to do so in a respectful way. As well as the local green spaces, the locals are still first and foremost - it hasn’t tried to recreate Peckham-by-sea, then blithely quip that it’s boosting the local economy. It’s a steep hill up the Old High Street, but a pretty one – each of the buildings are painted different colours – and a lot of the cafes and bars double up as performance spaces that host talks, workshops and gigs, what more could you ask for from a seaside town?


MF: How did the concept of Market Square come about and why did it
land in Folkestone? 

JP: With the up and coming foodie scene and the health aware people of Folkestone, Market Square was born. We aim to bring a new health conscious concept to Folkestone’s town centre, free from fad-diet trends, allowing us to present an Internationally inspired menu where the quality, locality and freshness of our produce is as essential as the comfort and nourishment we offer our guests.


MF: What has been your proudest moment to date in the kitchen? 

JP: Aside from working in and opening some of Folkestone’s more well-known restaurants over the years, to date, my proudest moment in the kitchen was being so positively reviewed in the February issue of Olive Magazine. 


MF: Are there any exciting menu developments or news from Market Square
on the horizon?

JP: Our menu is always evolving as we grow and go through the seasons and, as construction gets well underway, we have the exciting prospect of a new artisan food and drink hall in Market Square where fifteen food producers will be able to sell their goods, from wines to vegetables and cheese. Vendors will set up in the alcoves of the huge hall, while stalls will also run down the middle - some will be permanent, others pop ups - the idea being that it will be a place where you can shop for artisan products and speak to the experts behind them. We’ll also have an on-site bakery preparing fresh bread and offering bread demo days, bread classes and food demonstrations. 


MF: How do you enjoy your 'down-time' in Folkestone? 

JP: As a chef working long hours, my down time is precious to me, and I like nothing more than spending it outside in the open air. Folkestone has so many places to unwind with a run, ride or a walk along the coastal paths. I stop for a moment and look back at the view, being reminded what a wonderful part of the Kent coastline we live on.


MF: Market Square champions healthy eating, what are your top tips for eating healthily when at home? 

JP: You might think it's hard to find cheap, nutritious alternatives to tried and tested favourites, but eating healthily and sustainably can actually save you money and be better for you. So many more sustainable foods, including beans and pulses, are much cheaper than their meat alternatives, but if you do eat meat, try to buy local and check sustainability labelling to enjoy better quality, better tasting products that are less processed and more environmentally sustainable. 


MF: How do you see the foodie scene evolving here over the next five years? 

JP: My hometown has become one of the most genuinely exciting places to eat in Kent. Ambitious young chefs including myself, positively pulse with energy and ideas and, obsessed with the quality of our ingredients from around the coast and fields of the Garden of England, we’re rediscovering the connection between nature and healthy eating, understanding that this counts for just as much as our culinary skills and the appeal of the spaces in which we serve our creations. So with that, I’m hoping to see the local food scene soar with healthy and sustainable options available in the years to come. This is why our Artisan Market and Bakery with its food demonstration days, artisan producer accessibility and talks on foodie topics like foraging will, I hope, be a big part of what's evolving Folkestone’s foodie scene over the next couple of years.