From Base Camp Everest to train carriages in Vietnam… we meet the ex-Noma chef who is creating pop-up restaurants all over the world

Many a strange sight has been seen on Everest, but when the One Star House Party arrived at Base Camp carrying a dining room table, this probably took some beating. The team was there to host one of pop-up restaurants, which it is now holding in venues all over the world.

The One Star House Party is the brainchild of ex-Noma chef James Sharman and his friends Trisha McCrae (ex-GM for Soho House) and Kevin McCrae (Tom Aikens alumni). The trio decided to combine their love of food and travel and spend the next two years hosting 20 pop-up restaurants over 20 months in 20 different countries. “We imagined our restaurant bustling with gauchos in Argentina, Sherpas in Mount Everest and the street food traders in Vietnam,” says Sharman.

But rather than cook the same dishes that they would present in London or Denmark, the team decided to create local dishes with their own twist.

They started their epic culinary adventure in Beijing and then travelled to Ho Chi Minh and Bangkok, before taking on what would be the most testing pop-up of all – opening a restaurant at Base Camp, Everest. It wasn’t the first time that a chef had tried to launch a pop-up restaurant at the highest place on Earth, but so far all attempts had failed.

James and Kevin making yogurt on Everest.

“We were hell bent on visiting Nepal, as the only thing that we knew about Nepalese food, was that the majority of ‘Nepalese,’ restaurants outside of country were actually serving Indian food,” says Sharman. “Building the restaurant at Base Camp was a way to make people take a second look at Nepalese food for what it is.”

Their food discoveries in Nepal were nothing like they had encountered before. “We had duck tongue, sheep spleen and liver. It was some of the most memorable food we have had on our journey and the most tasty,” says Sharman.

Once they had finalised their menu for Everest, they then had to pack all their ingredients in jars, and carry everything they needed to make this pop-up restaurant a success. It would take them nine days to reach Base Camp. And on arrival, one of the first things that they saw was an avalanche.

However, Sharman said that the challenges that came with this record-breaking dinner party were more than worth it. “The techniques we learnt from the people growing, cooking and living under such adverse conditions are some of the most cherished lessons we’ve come across so far,” said Sharman.

Thailand-James-Pass-min

From here, the One Star House Party team flew to Mumbai (where the currency changed just as they were setting up the restaurant), and then on to Oman and Nairobi. Each pop-up has attracted 40 guests per night who are made up of food critics, gourmands and locals. “The guests we are always the most apprehensive about cooking for are the locals,” said Sharman. “The people who grew up with the cuisine that you’ve spent endless sleepless nights trying to master. There has been a few scary moments before opening where I’ve thought “I’m about to open a restaurant serving food to guests who understand this cuisine better than I ever will.””

But the chefs shouldn’t worry about not meeting the challenge as they spend at least a month in the country doing their research. They’ve taken mini masterclasses street food chefs in Ho Chi Minh; they’ve hiked up mountains on the edge of the Chengdu region to pick Sichuan pepper; they’ve visited the salt flats of Korea and they’ve joined the octogenarian female divers of Jeju to collect the perfect catch.

salt-one-star-house-party

And in each country, they have managed to produce dishes worthy of the one Michelin star that the team jokingly gave themselves when they launched the project. The only real major differences that they’ve discovered between working in regular restaurant and hosting a pop-up the chefs say is equipment and routine – two things that kitchens rely on heavily. “We can only travel with what we can fit into our suitcases. Ovens, stoves, sous vide machines are all off the table for us,” Sharman explains. “This does however have an upside, as it steers us towards using techniques locals would use, such as clay barbecues in Vietnam or charcoal pressured ovens in Kenya. It forces us to steer away from the techniques we’ve spent the last 10 years learning and to cook and see the food the way the locals would.”

Chef James Sharman has recently opened The Leah restaurant in Hong Kong. However, his next pop-up restaurant could be on water as he plans to soon sail from Hong Kong to London.

Suggested Itineraries
Italian cypress trees rows and a white road rural landscape. Siena, Tuscany, Italy, Europe.

From HK$25,000 pp

Luxury Roadtripping in Tuscany

Tuscany Italy Europe

  • Stay in a magnificent country estate overlooking the city of Siena
  • Drive through Tuscany’s countryside in a classic vintage car
  • Go wine tasting in Chianti at one of the world’s oldest vineyards
  • Explore the medieval towns of San Gimignano, Montepulciano, Volterra and Siena
  • Discover the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Pienza, a Renaissance town

When to go:

J F M A M J J A S O N D
ideal length 3 nights
Tuscany landscape at sunrise. Typical for the region tuscan farm house, hills, vineyard. Italy

From HK$60,000 pp

The Wine and Truffle Grand Tour

Italy Europe

  • Enjoy a cookery class in an Italian castle with an esteemed chef

  • Go on a hot air balloon flight over the Langhe Hills at sunset

  • Drive a classic Fiat 500 through the streets of Turin

  • Embark on a truffle-hunting expedition

  • Dine at the original Combal. Zero, one of the world’s top 50 restaurants

When to go:

J F M A M J J A S O N D
ideal length 9 nights
Shelley beach in Albany at sunrise, Western Australia

From HK$27,000 pp

Walking & Wine in Western Australia

Western Australia Australia Australasia

  • Discovering Perth and enjoying Shambhala spa’s treatments

  • Walking the picturesque track from Bunker Bay to Sugarloaf Rock

  • Enjoy a four course tasting menu with paired wines

  • Hike from Redgate Beach to Boranup Drive

  • Take a scenic helicopter tour of the area

When to go:

J F M A M J J A S O N D
ideal length 9 nights
Destinations Featured in the Article
China wildlife, Panda bear sleeping, Sichuan Province, Bifengxia nature reserve

China

From thriving cities to natural scenery and cultural diversity, China offers unforgettable luxury holidays. Discover Shanghai, Beijing, Yunnan and Sichuan with Lightfoot Travel.

Waiting for the elephants at the Chobe National Park

Africa

For a transformative experience and holiday of a lifetime, look no further than Africa’s epic landscapes, exotic wildlife and luxurious safari camps with Lightfoot Travel.

Wat Arun Buddhist Temple in bangkok Thailand. Yai district of Bangkok, Thailand landmark

Thailand

Thailand offers an intoxicating mix of buzzy cities, ancient temples, jungle treks, serene waterways, secluded beaches and incredible cuisine.

The Golden Bridge is lifted by two giant hands on Ba Na Hill in Danang, Vietnam

Vietnam

Visit Vietnam for exciting cities, stylish luxury retreats, French colonial history, lush green jungles, beautiful beaches, delicious street food and smiling locals.

china-hong-kong-business-district

Hong Kong

Hong Kong is the ultimate Asian city break, offering designer shopping and lively street markets, delicious gourmet delights and hip bars.

Empty Quarter, oMAN

Oman

A holiday in Oman can entail sailing past the khors of Musandam, camping in the desert of Wahiba Sands, and staying in some of the world’s most luxurious hotels.

Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica on a sunny day in Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City

Welcome to Vietnam’s high-octane southern metropolis. From tantalizing street food, striking historical landmarks, bountiful shopping options and a dazzling nightlife, Ho Chi Minh City is a city that has it all.

Beijing mountains, Great Wall of China

Beijing & Northern China

Beijing is the capital of China, and has been the heart of the country's politics and culture for much of the past 700 years. The city is dotted with opulent palaces, temples, gardens, tombs, and crumbling gates, not to mention the magnificent Great Wall.

Traditional Thai architecture, Wat Benjamaborphit or Marble Temple, Bangkok

Bangkok

A heady mix of contrasts and striking individuality makes it Southeast-Asia's darling, and the Thais' beloved City of Angels.

Similar Articles
Choose Lightfoot Travel
  • Knowledge
  • Expertly Crafted
  • Value
  • Peace of Mind