Owner, grate, Newcastle
What do you have for breakfast?
It’s a grab and go on the way to work with toast or a bacon sandwich, and I always have a massive mug of tea in the car.
And your go-to guilty pleasure?
One thing I try not to eat, but occasionally gets the better of me, is a KFC Hot Wings bucket. It’s not sexy, I’m not proud of it, but occasionally I just need chicken wings and gravy.
What would be your last meal on earth?
The timpano from the Stanley Tucci film Big Night. It looks insanely good!
What can I find in your home fridge right now?
There’s always a lot of dairy; cheese, obviously, but also several kinds of butter, yoghurts etc. I always have wine, and there are many jars of things – some picked up on holidays, some bought a long time ago – things you never throw out after using once.
Which ingredient would you have if you could only choose one?
I was brought up to understand how versatile eggs are and how you can feed yourself with just one of them. I get a little uneasy if I don’t have at least half-a-dozen in th cupboard.
Which is your most important piece of kitchen kit?
Sharp knives, they’re essential, as is a good steel to sharpen them. I also have a collection of wonderful tools for everything you could ever imagine – a nutmeg grater, a melon baller, several slotted spoons, and my mother-in-law’s rolling pin, which was made by her husband from engine parts and is an incredible piece of kit.
What’s your favourite cookbook?
I have a huge collection on their own bookcase in the hall. Chrissy Teigen’s books are full of amazing soul food recipes.
What’s your most important piece of advice in the kitchen?
Always work with a sharp knife. My worst injuries in the kitchen have come from forcing a blunt knife to do a job it’s not ready for. And store your cheese in waxed paper if possible, keep it in the vegetable drawer of your fridge, and take it out at least an hour before you want it. Always eat bloomy or ashed rind on a soft cheese – that’s the best part! Also, you can freeze any ends or rinds and use in a stock or cheese sauce in future.
What would you be doing if you weren’t running Grate?
When I was growing up, I dreamt of being a pilot –until I realised Ireland didn’t have an air force! I’m a total space nerd, so I’d like to think I could have been an astronaut if I hadn’t gone into food.
If you only had £10 to spend on food, what would you buy?
I’d spend it all on cheese, because it makes me happy.
Who is the greatest cook ever?
My mam. She made simple food and she did the greatest roast chicken and baked potatoes. I’ve made it my life’s mission to replicate what she did, but I’ve never managed to get close to what she could do.
Grate, 252 Jesmond Road, Jesmond, NE2 1LD, tel 0191 649 2528, www.gratenewcastle.co.uk