Last Word: Anthony O’Shaughnessy

Head Chef/Tutor, Blackfriars Cookery School, Newcastle

What do you have for breakfast?
When I’m working, I go for a banana. A green one because I can’t stand yellow ones these days – they’re so woolly and mushy. On my days off, I love coffee and pastries from Pink Lane Bakery.

What’s your go-to guilty pleasure?
A glass of wine and a good bag of crisps. Sometimes, I kid myself into thinking it counts as dinner.

What would be your last meal on earth?
I would love a selection of my favourite barbecue foods – baby ribs, brisket, pork and lots of salads on the side, watermelon pickles, buttery corn, etc. Afterwards, I would have a whole vanilla cheesecake with some fruit jams.

What’s in your home fridge?
At least two blocks of butter. I get very nervous if I don’t have at least two as that means I can make any birthday cake at a moment’s notice and still have enough to make a good, buttery icing. I also have a jar of Polish mayonnaise, which is my secret to velvety mashed potatoes.

Which ingredient would you have if you could only choose one?
Butter! Even just a small amount makes a huge difference to the taste and mouthfeel of your food.

What’s your most important piece of kitchen kit?
A bench scraper. I use little plastic ones and they’re great for transferring chopped ingredients from your chopping board, scraping pastry off your countertop, sweeping sticky garlic off your knife… They’re a godsend!

What’s your favourite cookbook?
Mouthfeel by Ole Mouritsen. I bought it because it has a nice picture of an ice lolly on the cover. It’s half science textbook, half recipe book, and it teaches you the basics of food texture. I highly recommend it, even for beginners.

What’s your most important piece of advice in the kitchen?
Never make something for guests that you’ve never made before. At the very least, test the recipe once first.

What would you be doing if you weren’t working in food?
My plan was to go into medicine. I was set to go to medical school until somebody (a doctor, as it happened) sat me down and told me to take a year and see what I could do with food. I’ve taught people from various walks of life how to cook and I find that far more rewarding.

If you only had £10 to spend on food, what would you buy?
Flour, eggs, some vegetables – and butter, because you’ll need some joy if you only have £10. I may even have some change for a bar of dark chocolate – lots of desserts at your disposal there.

Who is the greatest cook ever?
I’ve always admired female chefs and cooks. The most important in my life were my two great grandmothers – Mary Burdis, who lived to 104 and made her living as a home baker after her husband passed away, and Jane Lynch, who was a resident cook in Jesmond and was also well known for riding a moped.

Blackfriars, Friars Street, Newcastle, NE30 1XN, tel 0191 261 5945,

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