My earliest food memory was of my Nan. She was a proper East Ender. I remember going to see her on a Sunday and she would always buy us seafood from the local fish stall. We would have cockles, whelks and winkles that we would pick out with a pin. We would dip these into malt vinegar and then afterwards we mopped up the vinegar with bread and butter.
My mum can make a mean bread pudding from left-over bread that soaks overnight. The next day she squeezes out the excess water and adds eggs, mixed spice and dried fruit before she tops it with caster sugar and bakes it in the oven. I have never tasted a better bread pudding than my Mum’s.
For me food trends come and go. I love food that is cooked with passion, knowledge and respect. Good honest cooking never goes out of fashion. I love the Crown and Anchor in Waterloo as well as St John.
My most memorable food experience was at Le Manoir. It was a great culinary experience from beginning to end. It is such a fantastic location and Raymond Blanc is one of the best ever chefs. Opera Tavern in Covent Garden is a go-to place for me. Sitting at the bar with friends eating Iberico pork and foie gras burger with crispy pigs ear is awesome. I also like Terroirs wine bar in Charing Cross, they make the best duck rillette in London.
My favourite meal of all is at a small fish and chip shop in Padstow, they serve beautiful fresh fish and chips cooked in beef dripping. My idea of heaven is to sit eating on the harbour, facing the sun, soaking up the sea air and watching the world go by.
My ideal dinner guests would include my Dad, he left us too soon and I know he would have been proud. I would love Elvis to be there to drop a few tunes and tell some stories. I am a massive rugby fan so Jonny Wilkinson and Jason Robinson could tell us how they won the world cup. I have worked with some really great chefs so it is hard to pick just one. However, one chef I worked for wasn’t the best cook but he taught me how to be a better person. His mantra was work hard, treat everyone with respect and never ask someone to do something that you aren’t prepared to do yourself. He would be a dinner great guest to share his worldly wisdom with us all.
One of my favourite cook books is called Roast Chicken and Other Stories by Simon Hopkinson, he used to be head chef at Bibendum. I have cooked my way from front to back and every single recipe works. Interestingly there is not a single food photo in it. I admire chefs like Thomas Keller, Heston Blumenthal and Alain Ducasse but White Heat by Marco Pierre White is still one of the best cook books.
The three things I always have in my fridge are a good strong cheese, like Montgomery or Lincolnshire poacher. I love Marmite and baked beans which are surely a staple late night meal for every chef?