THEY say food is the way to a man's heart – and for Steve James, it couldn't be more true. He's pouring his passion for food into a new challenge and swapping an office for a kitchen – and he's been telling Jessica Rees exactly why.

IT takes something special to quit a job, believe in yourself and go it alone. And that's exactly what Steve James has done.

A lot of people complain about their nine to five office jobs, but very rarely does someone actually do something about it.

But Steve has. After discovering his passion in a kitchen in Halstock, Dorset, alongside top chef Lesley Waters, Steve, then 28, decided to pursue his dream and this summer set up his own cookery company as a caterer and personal chef service.

Now Steve is travelling to strangers' homes across Dorset to bring people together and cook for them for what he calls a 'modern dining experience'.

From a young age, Steve found himself cooking for his mother when she became ill.

Steve, who is originally from Weymouth, said: "I cared for my mum whilst I was growing up with the help of my sisters and dad, as she has multiple sclerosis.

"I had to do the cooking, cleaning and everything. Since a very early age I would throw family dinner parties and things like that and help my grandma make Christmas pudding."

Ever since then Steve drifted through jobs, caring and doing administrative work. He was inspired by caring for his mum and continued care work for six years before turning to office work.

It wasn't until he heard about a cookery course with Ready Steady Cook's Lesley Waters that he returned to cooking.

He said: "It was a birthday present from my mum and it was just something I really got into.

"She always loved my cooking and is very excited by me opening my new company and has always been supportive of what I want to do.

"She loves that I am finally doing what I have always dreamed of doing.

"I started cooking with Lesley doing training courses and got offered a position with her and from there I decided to go out on my own."

After four years of training and after working with Lesley for two years, Steve said he finally found his calling.

He said:"It just felt it was the right time to do it. I didn't want to carry on with an admin office job and I had the support of Lesley and my partner Rob.

"I throw dinner parties all the time so I'm well practised. They all love it."

Steve's signature dishes ready for autumn include hay smoked venison, squash pear and Gorgonzola tart and pear and vanilla cheesecake.

Steve said: "I like doing traditional food but in a modern way. I just like playing around with textures, flavours and making interesting combinations. It's a bit more unusual and special.

"I like making people happy and watching people's reactions when they eat the food. It's exciting – I know, that sounds a bit odd!"

Steve now lives in Yeovil with his partner Rob, who he's been with for four years. They're getting married in May next year and Lesley is doing the catering for the wedding.

"We have our own allotment with our own herbs, vegetables, fruit and free range eggs from our chicken – so it's all organic.

"I like to use organic home-grown produce as you know exactly where it has come from and how it has been grown.

"Where it is picked and used the same day it is fresher and free from preservatives, it's better for the environment and I find it has a better flavour.

"It is all about using the best quality and freshest produce with great flavour to ensure the best dishes."

Using organic ingredients, Steve conjures up his favourite recipes for guests.

He said: "Cheesecake is probably my favourite. I love cooking pork belly – the flavour of it and the texture and the crispy bits – and serve it with some root vegetables."

It's the support of his partner Rob being a guinea pig for dishes, and friends and his own determination that has made Steve's dream a reality.

Steve said: "My friends and family think it is brilliant that I am doing this and finally doing what I have always wanted to do.

"They have all been very supportive and excited to hear about what I have been doing and they always looking forward to try out new dishes and cocktails.

"Rob's worried that he's going to put on weight!"

He added: "I feel a little bit nervous but excited. At the same time it's more unnerving going out by myself than the cooking.

"I have many chefs that inspire me but I have to say Lesley has been the greatest inspiration to me – her friendly personable nature and her great teaching techniques.

"She is so helpful and is not only a fantastic role model but has become a great friend as well."

*To find out more about Steve James's Modern Dining Experience, visit