Owner and chef, Cook House and Long Friday
What do you have for breakfast?
I’m not a breakfast person, so I’ll have a cup of Pink Lane or Ouseburn Coffee in bed and then some fruit as I walk to work. I’ll eat a bit at work, but the team sit-down around 3pm is generally my first proper meal of the day.
And your go-to guilty pleasure?
My biggest weakness is butter and I like to have thick, cheese-style slices of Acorn Dairy butter on top of good bread. The bit of the brain that tells you not to slice butter like that just doesn’t work for me.
What would be your last meal on earth?
My favourite food is seafood, so langoustines, oysters and crab with aioli, bread, and a good white wine, followed by a lot of cheese (Doddington Dairy Darling Blue is my favourite) and a lot of red wine.
What’s in your home fridge?
I tend to shop one meal at a time so it’s normally pretty empty. There are lots of weird things too – fermenting things, little pastes, experiments in jars. I’m a big fan of condiments and they make up at least half the contents of the fridge.
Which ingredient would you have if you could only choose one?
Butter again; it just makes everything taste better.
What’s your most important piece of kitchen kit?
I’m not a big kit collector at home or at work. One thing I have to have though is a good quality heavy pan which can go in the oven. I’m a big fan of slow cooking and braising – things you can let bubble away for a few hours. It also cuts down on the washing up.
What’s your favourite cookbook?
I love cookbooks and I buy a lot of them. I go back to Fergus Henderson’s St. John books again and again as it’s a style of cooking I love and the food in the books is fantastic.
What’s your most important piece of advice in the kitchen?
Learning to improvise is really important – knowing you don’t need all the ingredients as long as you’re calm and can work out what to do when something is missing or goes wrong.
What would you be doing if you weren’t working in food?
If I wasn’t running the restaurants, I’d love to be able to write more. I’ve done one book and I’d love to do another one. I also love the outdoors and I have this romantic idea of growing flowers in a kitchen garden when I retire.
If you only had £10 to spend on food, what would you buy?
I’d go simple and delicious and buy some good bread, Doddington cheese, Cook House pickles, and of course some really good butter.
Who is the greatest cook ever?
Elizabeth David’s books had a big influence on me and got me thinking about the process of cooking outside of just following a recipe. She inspired me to cook and to write, and I still go back to her books all the time.