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James Brennan

Writer: food, travel, creative

Location icon United Kingdom

I am a writer with almost 20 years' experience - from food and travel writing, to creative writing and advertising copywriting.

Now a freelance writer, I was formerly the food editor for Time Out Dubai magazine and The National newspaper in the UAE, and a local editor for the Zagat guide to Dubai. I am a regular contributor to www.finedininglovers.com (S.Pellegrino), and have contributed to a range of publications including The Independent, The Sunday Times, Esquire, Bloomberg Businessweek, CNN Travel, plus a range of in-flight magazines from Emirates to Singapore Airlines.

For four years, I held the position of chairman of the Middle East voting panel for The World's 50 Best Restaurants awards.

I recently attained an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham.

Portfolio

Food

Time Out Birmingham
05/07/2019
How to eat like a local in Birmingham

Channelling our spirit of invention, the world-conquering balti was created by Kashmiri migrants in Sparkbrook in the 1970s. The ultimate convenience curry, it's cooked quickly in a thin steel bowl (a balti) and scooped up with naan bread, preferably one the size of a boardroom table (non-Brummies may use cutlery, but will be sniggered at).

Finedininglovers
04/09/2019
Amsterdam tasting tour with chef Kokmeijer

"What makes Amsterdam so special is the variety of restaurants," says chef Onno Kokmeijer about his home city's vibrant food scene. Whether it's cutting-edge fine dining, or exciting street food, the head chef at 2 Michelin star restaurant is always on the lookout for new and interesting places to eat in the Dutch capital.

Finedininglovers
01/03/2019
What if food was the new rock'n'roll and food halls were the new stages?

In a formerly unloved corner of London's Victoria, a tired Edwardian building next to a bus station has been given a new lease of life. What used to be a nightclub pumping out house music now chimes with kitchen sounds and diners' chatter. But this isn't some monstrous outpost of a celebrity chef's empire.

Bloomberg Businessweek ME
02/15/2015
The Great Gulf Eat Out - Food Trucks

The global food truck craze is rolling into town for the UAE’s annual food festivals. But can the mobile eateries find a permanent home on the streets of the Gulf?

Fine Dining Lovers
09/30/2014
A Tabasco Sauce Tour, in Search of a Spicy Recipe

A tour in Avery Island, Louisiana's Gulf Coast: a place where every single bottle of Tabasco in the world - 70,000 a day - is made. By James Brennan on "I want you to pay attention to what's happening in your mouth," says Harold 'Took' Osborn, senior vice president of the McIlhenny Company, with a silver scoop of chilli pepper mash in his hand and a look of devilment in his eyes.

Priority (Singapore Airlines)
04/01/2015
Time for tea

James Brennan distills the charm and enduring traditions of the world’s best tea destinations.

Priority (Singapore Airlines)
02/01/2014
Danish Delight

Local, natural and sustainable food is at the core of Denmark’s latest culinary movement. James Brennan reveals what’s cooking in Copenhagen

Finedininglovers
02/05/2014
Bites for Bits: How Bitcoin Could Change the Food Business

Way back in 2010, a programmer from Florida, USA, bought a couple of pizzas. Nothing unusual in that, you might think. But these were no ordinary pizzas. Because the programmer was Laszlo Hanyecz, and the pizzas were bought with Bitcoin. Back then, the Bitcoins Hanyecz had "mined" on his computer were worth around 0.003 cents each.

Fine Dining Lovers
05/28/2014
Chef Sergio Herman: "The Jane? A Woman, More Than a Restaurant"

A chat with Sergio Herman: after closing his world-famous 'Oud Sluis', the 44-year old chef is now radically changing with 'The Jane' restaurant in Antwerp. By James Brennan on In the former chapel on the site of an old military hospital, the vast vaulted ceiling seems to peel and flake.

Esquire
12/01/2010
Hell's Kitchen - Gordon Ramsay

If you were to belIeve everythIng you read In the news, then gordon ramsay’s career Is goIng up In smoke. and he’s takIng hIs famIly, hIs busIness empIre and hIs reputatIon wIth hIm. or Is that just wishful thInkIng on the part of hIs many detractors?

Travel

The Independent
09/11/2018
10 of the best hotels in Birmingham

Birmingham is a city that never stands still. Ever changing and constantly reinventing itself, the City of a Thousand Trades always has somewhere fresh and exciting to explore. Whether it's Michelin-starred restaurants and convivial pubs, shops and markets, or eclectic music venues and art galleries - a stroll along Birmingham's busy streets and miles of canals frequently offers a surprise or two.

Time Out Birmingham
05/07/2019
The top things to do in the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham

If the historic hotchpotch of listed buildings, boutiques, bars, restaurants, galleries and museums that is the Jewellery Quarter was in most other cities, they'd never stop polishing one off about it. According to English Heritage, Europe's largest cluster of jewellery businesses is a 'national treasure'.

Alpha magazine (Gulf News)
02/01/2015
Bluffer's guide to being a food tourist

Thinking of going on a culinary adventure? do your holiday plans involve scouring street markets for strange titbits? are you The kind of determined traveller who insists on eating like the locals do? Then be warned: the road to a full belly is paved with pitfalls, hazards, challenges and the occasional steamed duck’s foot.

CNN Traveller
01/01/2011
Last taxi for Beirut

In Syria, James Brennan goes in search of a dying breed of American automobile

Thetimes
01/23/10
Time travel on Arab shores

They weren't swimming, they were surfing. Four, maybe five humpback dolphins jostled for position alongside the boat and gracefully rode the surge in its wake. As one rose proudly on the surface, another gleefully upstaged it, leaping over the flow and back into the wash.

Art & Culture

Time Out Birmingham
05/08/2019
Meet Foka Wolf, the Birmingham Banksy

I'm standing in a dimly lit corridor in a studio complex somewhere in Birmingham, and I'm looking into the eyes of Foka Wolf. He's laughing about getting death threats for his 'Voodoo Classes for Kids' paste-up. 'People were saying they were gonna kill me because, you know, religious people had taken offence at it,' he says.

The National
01/20/2020
Retirement: a dirty word for Motörhead's main man

At the age of 63, and after more than 40 years in the music business, Lemmy's eardrums must have taken quite some pounding. If there's one thing Lemmy Kilmister can do without, it's a bad phone line. When the legendary Motörhead bassist and frontman answers my call from his Los Angeles base, he sounds like a broken fax machine in a bathtub.

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