Tag: Rocco Forte

meet in your kitchen | Dario Cammarata’s Herb Ravioli, Palermo & Villa Kennedy

Herb Ricotta Ravioli

Once in a while one has to enjoy the pleasures of life a bit more excessively, plenty is the right word. I convinced my boyfriend that we deserved a little break from our daily duties, to learn how to make ravioli from a true Palermo man. Luckily, my Sicilian chef, the charming Dario Cammarata, works in the kitchen of Frankurt’s most beautiful hotel, the splendid Villa Kennedy, so it wasn’t much work to get a ‘yes’ from my man.

We jumped on a train, crossed the country, and found ourselves in front of the heavy iron gates of an elegant villa. Built in 1901 for a banker family, the house looks impressive but not intimidating. Beige sandstone, zinc gables, turrets, and ornate balustrades made me feel like a princess, at least for 24 hours. I was prepared for excellent service and outstanding food – which we definitely experienced at dinner, breakfast, and lunch – but I didn’t expect to feel so welcomed and nicely spoilt, so I asked myself: “Why should I ever leave again?” Be it the three porters Luciano, Mahmood, and Girgis, or the second man from Palermo in the house and maître d’hôtel, Vito Vitale, the way they treated us goes beyond politeness, their friendliness comes straight from the heart. But there were two people who I could have taken straight home with me to Berlin, Yasmin Michel and my favourite Sicilian chef Dario, our two partners in crime for 24 hours to spoil us with amazing wine, the finest champagne, and delicious treats from the kitchen of the Gusto restaurant.

Herb Ricotta Ravioli

Before we sat down to our Sicilian feast on the evening of our arrival, I had a chat with Dario who left his home island at the age of 18. He wanted to become a chef since first setting foot in a restaurant kitchen in Palermo as a young man of 14. As soon as he finished his training he headed to northern Europe to follow his second passion: traveling. He worked in many great restaurants, amongst them Michelin-starred restaurants in Saint-Tropez, Italy, and Switzerland, and went through the suffering that every ambitious and successful young chef has to go through. Long hours of hard work and not much sleep are the price you have to pay if you work in the world’s best culinary hotspots. Dario loved it and only the love to his wife made him settle down. It’s already been 10 years since he joined the Villa Kennedy as the Executive Chef and – being a father of three children now – Dario wouldn’t change anything. He enjoys cooking at home with his kids, introducing them to the vast knowledge and traditions he learned from his Sicilian Mamma Saveria. Dario praises her cooking and, although he admits that no Sicilian man would ever say his mother isn’t talented in the kitchen, Saveria must be a true gem. She’s critical – of course – she has very high standards when it comes to food, so much so that she sometimes cooked three different dishes for lunch to please the individual taste of her three sons when they were young. This woman loves her food – and her family. After one of Dario’s visits to his Mamma’s kitchen earlier this year, he decided to take a few of her recipes up north to introduce the guests of the hotel to the Mamma’s Menu:

Anelletti alla Trapanese con Tartara di Gamberoni alla Menta
(Anelletti Trapanese pasta with king prawn tatar and mint)
Involtini di Pesce Spada con Insalatina di Finocchi ed Agrumi, Calamaretti
(swordfish involtini with fennel and citrus fruit salad and calamaretti)
Trio di Cannoli con Gelato al Pistacchio
(cannoli trilogy with pistacchio ice cream)

We enjoyed it in silence, only accompanied by a few Ohh’s and Ahh’s and a bottle of amazing Sicilian white wine – divine. Grilled polpo with potatoes was next, beautifully hearty Ravioli con Sanguinaccio, Pera E Sedano Rapa (black pudding ravioli with pear and celeriac), and a heavenly buffalo ricotta cheesecake with blueberry sorbet. This dinner left me happy, stuffed, and ready for bed.

Herb Ricotta Ravioli

The next day started with an early morning swim in the peaceful spa, followed by lots of laughter and excitement in the kitchen – and even more fantastic food. I should have skipped breakfast as I had a cooking date with Dario ahead but it looked too tempting so I gave in. Sometimes in life you just have to go with the flow and enjoy what it offers – in this case, plenty of good food. We put on our aprons and I felt ready to learn how a Sicilian man who lives in the cold north makes ravioli. He uses what Mamma taught him to prepare the perfect pasta dough and combines it with one of the most popular classics of his new home: the Frankfurt green sauce, enriched with ricotta to fill the ravioli. The sauce is a traditional recipe from the Frankfurt region, made with seven fresh herbs: parsley, chives, chervil, borage, sorrel, garden cress, and salad burnet. In Germany, you can by them ready packed for this sauce but Dario recommends buying them singly, otherwise you’ll end up with lots of (cheaper) parsley and little of the more expensive herbs. If you can’t find all of them at your market, just skip one or replace it – I know that true Frankfurt green sauce defenders wouldn’t agree with me but we’re talking about cooking and not science. Dario says that a bit of fresh mint or lemon would also fit his ravioli filling to freshen it up. Just be experimental. And if you’d like to see a little video of Dario making ravioli, check out my Snapchat (@eatinmykitchen).

Herb Ricotta Ravioli

Although we laughed the whole time, we managed to successfully make ravioli and they were the best spring ravioli I ever had in my life – fresh and green, not too heavy and packed with flavour. From now on, Dario is my favourite Sicilian chef. His approach to food, the honesty and restraint in his recipes, the Sicilian way of playing with contrasting aromas, and his focus on only the best quality ingredients often imported from Sicily by himself, impressed me and made my taste buds jump.

Thank you for everything, you wonderful people at Villa Kennedy!

I can also recommend joining the Friday Chef’s Table if you happen to be in Frankfurt – it’s a gathering around the table in the Gusto kitchen to see and smell how you’re food is prepared.

Herb Ricotta Ravioli

 

Herb Ricotta Ravioli

Dario Cammarata’s Herb Ricotta Ravioli

Serves 6.

For the pasta dough

plain flour 250g / 2 cups
durum wheat semolina 250g / 9 ounces
fine sea salt 1 teaspoon
egg yolks 15
olive oil 3 tablespoons

For the filling

fresh ricotta 250g / 9 ounces
a mixture of 7 herbs: borage, chervil, garden cress, parsley, pimpinella (salad burnet), sorrel, chives, the leaves finely chopped, 1 large bunch
fresh basil leaves, finely chopped, 1 small handful
fresh mint leaves, finely chopped, 6, or a little lemon zest (optional)
Parmesan, freshly grated, 150g / 5 ounces
fine sea salt
ground pepper

For the topping

butter, melted, about 6 tablespoons
Parmesan, freshly grated, about 6 tablespoons
fresh herbs, leaves only, 1 handful
ground pepper

For the pasta dough, in a large bowl, combine the flour, semolina, and salt. Add the egg yolks and olive oil and mix for a few minutes until smooth and well combined, using your hands or the dough hooks of an electric mixer. Form a ball, wrap in cling film, and let it sit for 20 minutes.

For the filling, in a large bowl, add the ricotta and whisk in the chopped herbs and Parmesan until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Using a pasta machine or rolling pin, roll the dough very thinly, you should be able to see your hand through the dough.

In a large pot, bring salted water to the boil.

To give the ravioli half moon-shapes, cut out circles using a 9cm / 3 1/2″ cookie cutter. Put a spoonful of the filling in the middle of each circle and, using your finger, spread a little water all along the pasta rim. Fold half of the ravioli over to end up with a half moon-shape, push the rim well with your fingers to seal the filling inside.

Turn the water down to simmering and cook the ravioli for about 2-3 minutes or until al dente.

Divide the ravioli between plates, drizzle with melted butter, and sprinkle with Parmesan, fresh herbs, and season with a little ground pepper.

Buon Appetito!

Herb Ricotta Ravioli

When you left Palermo at the age of 18, did you have a plan in mind, or a dream that you wanted to achieve? Or did you just jump into this big adventure?

I always wanted to become a chef, I already knew that at quite a young age. I didn’t have a plan in mind but I had a goal. At the same time, I wanted to travel the world and I was after a job that would allow me to combine my two passions. It was a mix of planning and adventure, so when I finished school in Sicily at the age of 19, I packed my bags and left – off to Sirmione at Lake Garda. This was the beginning of my great dream and from then on it continued.

What did it mean to you to work in Michelin-starred restaurants in Italy, France, and Switzerland as a young man? What fascinated you about the work in these kitchens?

It meant a lot to me and it still does. I was particularly fascinated by these countries. I admire Italy and France’s long kitchen traditions. So many amazing dishes and excellent chefs originated from these two cuisines. Switzerland, to me, stands for decades of tradition in the hotel business. They have outstanding houses with great restaurants.

The amount of people working in Michelin-starred restaurants impressed me tremendously. At Badrutt’s Palace, in Saint-Tropez, our kitchen team was made up of 61 people – it’s unbelievable. I’m very proud of having worked there, and I wouldn’t want to miss the experience, but it was never a must for me to work at these restaurants. It was far more important for me to learn about different countries and cultures and their traditions. Cooking connects us, to me it’s easiest to understand various nations and habits through their cuisines.

What was the most important lesson you learned as a young chef?

Little things often have the greatest effects. Both positive and negative. This is what my boss in Saint-Tropez used to tell me and it became the cooking mantra of my life. It’s the guideline I pass on to my team now.

You grew up with the Sicilian cuisine cooked by your Mamma Saveria, how did your home island’s culinary traditions influence your style of cooking and your approach to food?

A lot! I wouldn’t be the Dario I am today without the influences of my Sicilian home – and especially my Mamma. In particular when it comes to my cooking. At the age of 2 or 3, I already joined my Mamma in the kitchen. I didn’t necessarily help her, but I tasted everything, and that’s what I remember clearly. Already then, I was fascinated by the preparation of food and watching and learning at such a young age definitely affected my style of cooking, my outlook on produce, and the way I work with food.

If you had to point out the main differences between cooking and living in Italy and Germany, what would they be? What do you like about German cooking?

Italians live and eat differently to Germans. Italians “take their time for life”, and food is a great part of it. To enjoy life is so important in the life of an Italian. Eating together is a feast, a celebration, no matter what we eat, what day of the week it is, or if we had a good or bad day. We savour the time together to the last second.

Germans are more influenced by the experiences they had during the day – Italians aren’t really like this. Eating together, being together, that’s most important. What I like about German cooking, is that people start to go back to their roots. Regional produce, traditional recipes, and cultural gems are being re-discovered, that’s great. This has always been important in Italian and French cuisine, so it’s fantastic that more and more German chefs and cooks follow this trend.

Where do you find inspiration for new recipes?

Preferably directly at the farmers’ market. Seasonal fresh produce inspires me, many of my ideas come up right there. I like the combination of tradition and new takes on recipes, this adds new qualities to a dish. And I love running, it allows my mind and creativity to be free, it relaxes me but at the same time it sparks lots of new ideas that I want to try in the kitchen immediately.

What do you miss the most about Sicily?

The sea! And the smell of the Zagara (orange blossom) flower. I really miss it. When I see the sea and I have this smell in my nose, I know that I’m home. And, of course, I miss my Mamma’s cooking! That’s why I imported her to Germany (see the Villa Kennedy Mamma’s Menu in my introduction).

Who is your biggest inspiration in the kitchen?

My Mamma! Like I said, she inspired me at a very young age and from her, I learned about all the traditional Sicilian recipes, which I’m very grateful for. Another inspiration for my career was the chef Ludovic Laurenty, my boss at Château de Pray (in the Loire Valley). He taught me the importance of staying calm – he used to be the calmest person ever. I learned a lot from him and I still think a lot of him, like all the other chefs I’ve worked with – you take a piece of each of them with you.

What was the first dish you cooked on your own, what is your first cooking memory?

Involtini di melanzane (eggplant rolls), I was 15 and I cooked them for a good friend of mine. Typically Sicilian, it’s an easy dish and still one of my favourites. You should try it!

What are your favourite places to buy and enjoy food in Palermo and in Frankfurt? 

In Sicily, I like to go to Bisso Bistrot in Palermo. It’s a cosy, friendly, and original Sicilian restaurant. In Frankfurt, I regularly go to the Kleinmarkthalle (a farmers’ market hall), here you can buy and eat food at the same time. First, I choose the fresh produce I need and then I enjoy a glass of wine and some antipasti. In Wiesbaden, where I live, I like to go to Gusto E. A former colleague of mine runs this pretty little restaurant, I always get a warm welcome and scrumptious food.

If you could choose one person to cook a meal for you, who and what would it be?

The Sicilian director Giuseppe Tornatore. His movies open my heart – not just because he’s Sicilian (laughing). He seems to be a great guy and I love his way of making movies, he carries a lot of Sicily out into the world, that always impressed me. I would make cannoli with him. It’s typical for our home island and I’d love to go to the farmer together with Giuseppe to buy ricotta, or we’d make our own. Maybe he would even put this scene into one of his next movies.

You’re going to have ten friends over for a spontaneous dinner, what will be on the table?

Parmigiana – I love this vegetable-Parmesan-casserole dish. It’s the taste of Sicily. Pasta is next, I would see what fits to the season. If my friends came over in the spring, I’d make orecchiette with fava beans, fresh tomatoes, prawns, pine seeds, and basil. Fish as main, two oven-roasted sea bass with lots of herbs and lemon, and tiramisu or a tart with fresh raspberries as dessert.

What was your childhood’s culinary favourite and what is it now?

My Mamma’s Parmigiana. It’s always been my favourite and it still is. Whenever I go to Siciliy, I can be sure to find it on my Mamma’s table – she knows me too well.

Do you prefer to cook on your own or together with others?

I never cook alone. Cooking connects us and it’s far more fun to do it together with others. Even if someone just watches. I love to cook together with my wife and my three kids. Cooking on my own is boring.

Which meals do you prefer, improvised or planned?

I prefer to improvise. It bores me to plan every single detail. When you improvise, you can change and adjust and create something new. That keeps it interesting.

Which meal would you never cook again?

That’s not easy… 4 years ago, we had the final for a national cooking competition at the Villa Kennedy. Private cooks presented their own creations and I helped them with a little advice here and there, but I wasn’t allowed to change much. I see myself as quite open-minded, but one of the finalists made salmon with celery cream and mascarpone, I never ever want to eat this again. The recipe lost the competition by the way.

Thank you Dario!

Herb Ricotta Ravioli

 

Herb Ricotta Ravioli

 

Herb Ricotta Ravioli

 

Herb Ricotta Ravioli

 

Herb Ricotta Ravioli

 

Herb Ricotta Ravioli

 

Herb Ricotta Ravioli

 

meet in your kitchen | Scones & Tea Time at Brown’s Hotel in London

Scones & Tea Time at London's Brown's Hotel

As soon as the charming doorman George opened the wooden framed glass door of the elegant Brown’s Hotel in the heart of Mayfair, I found myself in another world – in old Britain. Brown’s is London’s oldest hotel, it was opened in 1837 by James Brown and his wife Sarah. It was here that the first UK telephone call was made by Alexander Graham Bell, President Roosevelt enjoyed the house’s quiet luxury during his honeymoon, and it inspired Agatha Christie and Rudyard Kipling to many of their novels. With no doubt, this house has a glamorous history.

I celebrate my own little tea time at home every day, but for quite a while I’ve been in the mood for the complete English ceremony in all its extravagance at a traditional hotel in London. The stunning English Tea Room at Brown’s Hotel  – renowned and awarded for serving one of the best tea ceremonies in the city – seemed like the perfect choice and I happily accepted an invitation by the hotel. It was an unforgettable Afternoon Tea of almost Roman proportions. Sophie and her fantastic team at the hotel treated me heavenly from the moment I set foot on the hotel’s beautiful black and white mosaic floors.

Scones & Tea Time at London's Brown's Hotel

While I sat at a long table, decadently filled with delicate pastries, scrumptious scones with clotted cream and jam, delicious sandwiches, Christmas fruit cake and calamansi chocolate yule log, I got the chance to chat with Lee Kebble, the hotel’s Executive Chef, and Thomas Coly, the French Pastry Chef and the master of one of the best scones I’ve ever eaten in my life. Thomas Coly stole my heart with an outstanding Mandarin Chestnut Tart and a fine composition of blood orange and saffron – and of course, with his French charm. He learnt under the guidance of Alain Ducasse and praises his strict regiment in the kitchen. Thomas follows his patron’s culinary philosophy: Respect the produce and focus on just a few dominant flavours, three at most. If you work with a ripe peach in the kitchen for a composition, you should be able to see a peach in your mind’s eye with your first bite. The French chef misses his family in Toulouse but he loves the diversity of food in London where the culinary landscape is influenced by so many cultures from all over the world. He sees his role as a chef as that of an ambassador, to present his guests with the best produce, transformed into delicious dishes in his own style. Very British but with French finesse, like his scone recipe which Thomas graciously offered to share with us.

My splendid tea ceremony started with an introduction to the tea room’s selection of 17 teas by a tea sommelier who helped me with my choice: the fine Jing’s Gong Fu Tea. I also tried a few nibbles from the Tea-Tox, the healthy sister of the traditional afternoon treat, and although I don’t mind dairy and sugar in my own diet, I enjoyed these treats just as much. But in the end, Thomas and I agreed that butter, eggs and sugar cause too much fun in the kitchen to cut them out of our lives.

Scones & Tea Time at London's Brown's Hotel

When Lee Kebble came into the room I was more than impressed by his calm and kind nature, he seems like a rock in the kitchen. Leading a brigade of 24, he takes care of the famous HIX Mayfair restaurant, The English Tea Room, The Donovan Bar, private events and in room dining at the hotel, and despite all my expectations, he doesn’t come across as a man who needs to raise his voice. He spreads an aura of confidence and competence, which is easy to trust. Lee’s love for food started early, at the age of ten, when he used to meet with a friend on Sundays at one of their houses to cook extravagant meals – such as Coq au Vin – for their parents, with recipes from their personal bible – the Hamlyn cookbook. His own kids seem to follow his passion, they already love their family tradition of baking pancakes or waffles with their dad on Saturdays, or preparing pizza, bread or homemade pasta together. Lee learnt in the kitchen of the award-winning chef Anton Edelmann at The Savoy who had as much of a strong influence on his cooking as Mark Hix. He says he was thrilled by the vibrance of restaurant kitchens since he first stepped in at the age of 16. Mark Hix introduced Lee and his team to a special tradition that is held in the kitchen every two weeks: His suppliers fill a huge table with the best seasonal produce and Mark himself cooks and experiments with it all morning. He then invites the chefs from all his restaurants to compete with him in a 20-minute-cooking challenge. This way, they develop new recipes, learn from each other and evolve their skills. When I asked what happens to the unlucky ones who have a bad day or can’t work under this kind of pressure, Lee gave a very British answer: “Their food will go to the staff’s table, and that’s also where they’ll have to sit”, and laughed. I love the British!

The five-star Brown’s Hotel is one of ten Rocco Forte luxury hotels, and a stay in this house located at one of the city’s most prestigious addresses is one of those special treats that you should allow yourself once in a while, even if it’s just for one night. It’s the kind of luxury that puts your mind at ease and let’s you relax immediately. The hotel’s wonderful team does an excellent job of fulfilling all your wishes – even the ones you weren’t aware of.

Thank you Sophie, Lee, Thomas, and the rest of the Rocco Forte family!

Scones & Tea Time at London's Brown's Hotel

Brown’s Hotel Scones

Mind that the dough for the Brown’s scones has to rest twice,  for 4 hours, before you can bake the scones in the oven.

For about 12 scones

plain flour 500g / 3 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons
fine sea salt 1/2 teaspoon
baking powder 1 tablespoon
granulated sugar 100g / 1/2 cup
butter, cold, diced, 100g / 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons
whole milk 250ml / 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon
sultanas (optional) 60g / 2 ounces
eggs, beaten, 2, for the egg wash

In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar, and beat in the butter with the dough hooks of an electric mixer or rub it in with your fingers. Gently mix until just combined.

Slowly pour in the milk and mix with the dough hooks of an electric mixer, mix in the sultanas (optional) before the milk is completely mixed into the dough. Leave the dough to rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Roll the dough on a floured surface to a thickness of 2 1/2 cm / 1″. Flip the dough upside down and cut the scones with a round 4cm / 1 1/2″ cutter. Transfer the scones to the lined baking sheet, leaving space in between for the scones to rise. Brush the top of the scones with half the egg wash and leave to rest for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 390°F.

Brush the top of the scones with the remaining egg wash and leave to rest for 5 minutes.

Bake the scones for about 8 minutes, then turn the tray and add another 6 minutes, or until golden brown. Enjoy warm.

Scones & Tea Time at London's Brown's Hotel

Lee, you’ve been working with renowned chefs since the beginning of your career, first under the guidance of Anton Edelmann at The Savoy and now with Mark Hix at Brown’s Hotel as the hotel’s Executive Chef. What are the most important lessons you’ve learnt from these two mentors?

Firstly, with Anton Edelmann I developed a passion for food that wasn’t very prominent as I embarked on my career. At 16 I had no idea of what to expect, but was very quickly wrapped up in the atmosphere of The Savoy Hotel kitchens and especially in the presence of Anton Edelmann himself. Under his guidance I learnt and perfected classic culinary skills, but most importantly the respect for ingredients in their storage, preparation and cooking. This philosophy and care will never leave me.

Working with Mark Hix has had a major impact on my career. The philosophy of food has a massive impact on the way I cook. Also working with Mark and his team has taught me a lot about organisation and developed me in areas that are generally not taught in other kitchens. The structure and organisational systems that are in place have helped me tremendously over the last 8 years. Mark has a different view of what is happening in every situation and it has been amazing watching and learning the thought processes he uses.

Thomas, being the Head Pastry Chef, you’re also responsible for the sweet treats for one of London’s most famous Afternoon Teas at The English Tea Room. What’s so fascinating about this old English tradition? 

The Afternoon Tea is the showcase of an English tradition and is an institution, which is being realised with different interpretations. The concept of Afternoon Tea is fascinating, you can spend time as a couple, with family or on business, by being relaxed. I am personally proud to represent this tradition.

What are the main differences between working in the kitchen of a hotel or a restaurant?

Lee Kebble: Working in a hotel is an ever changing environment. There needs to be control over every outlet, at all times. The structuring of this is very important to ensure consistency over every area. That’s where the fun is in hotels though. No two days are ever the same, there’s always a request, a bespoke event, an afternoon tea promotion to look after.

I think that in a restaurant you have what’s in front of you and the focus can be very clear, on the opposite hand in a hotel you have many angles to channel that focus.

Thomas Coly: Everything, the organisation, the quantity of production and the flexibility.

What do you love about the British cuisine, sweet and savoury?

Lee Kebble: I love the energy in British cuisine now, the demand chefs are putting onto UK suppliers to source and grow produce that has previously been ignored and left for our friends all over the world. The whole style is taking on a new approach and shedding the heavy, stodgy image of the past and pushing the boundaries with fresh, light and modern techniques using new ingredients. This really applies to sweet and savoury. I like the foraged and wild ingredients popping up, for example sea buckthorn which has allowed us to have desserts that mirror passion fruit and citrus flavours.

Thomas Coly: I’m French and like most French people I used to have a bad vision of the British cuisine, but I discovered, in England, we have excellent products.

How important is seasonal and local produce for your creations?

Lee Kebble: Our philosophy is all about seasonal and local produce. At HIX Mayfair we only use British produce. Elsewhere we use a more international array of ingredients but still keeping to the seasonal core values.

Thomas Coly: It’s very important, seasonal first and foremost, to make use of the products at their peak, when the quality is best, and local because we are the ambassadors of British food and it’s our duty to represent and show all the local products to ours guests.

How do you develop new recipes? Where do you find inspiration?

Lee Kebble: Our suppliers are the true inspiration for our recipes and ideas. It all starts with them and we take their ingredients or products to where we want. They provide the sparks that create menus, keeping us at the forefront of seasonal changes and new / un-used products.

Then secondly, the Hix team provides a huge and important part of generating ideas and working on new recipes. We have a bi-weekly challenge where we all cook for 20 minutes as many new and experimental dishes as possible, alongside Mark Hix. From here menus can be written, dishes tried and developed for later dates.

Thomas Coly: I start with the season first, the combination of flavours and then the textures. I find inspiration everywhere – in my experiences, my childhood, memories, travels …

Who has been your biggest inspiration in the kitchen? Who or what inspired you to start a career in food?

Lee Kebble: My family, no one in particular but all were equally supportive when I decided to take on a profession that was unknown and unheard of in past generations.

Once I was in the kitchen it was Anton Edelmann and the Savoy kitchens that stoked the fire for me. I always remember my first week. I watched the sauciers working away in awe and knew I wanted to be like that.

Thomas Coly: My biggest inspiration in the kitchen was Alain Ducasse and his chefs with whom I learnt respect and sensitivity towards the product. I think it was my nanny when I was a kid who used to cook everything fresh, I still remember her making jam in the morning during my breakfast.

What was the first dish you cooked or baked on your own, what is your first cooking memory?

Lee Kebble: Coq au vin from the Hamlyn cookbook. Each week when I was around 10, a friend and I would go to each other’s houses and cook for our parents. The Hamlyn cookbook was our bible and we tried many of the recipes.

Thomas Coly: The first dish I cooked was an omelette with my dad. My first cooking memory is when my mother baked a tart on a Sunday afternoon, it was amazing.

What advice would you give someone who wants to become a chef?

Lee Kebble: Be prepared for hard but extremely rewarding work. Adopt a can do attitude. Work with a smile because if you love your job you will never do a day’s work in your life.

Thomas Coly: My advice for those who want to become a chef is to have a passion above everything as it’s a very hard job and without the passion you can’t do this for sure.

What are your favourite places to buy and enjoy food in London?

Lee Kebble: I have always had a soft spot for Borough market and often go picking up goodies to cook for friends and family. Here, there is a real array of producers and treats to feast on.

Other than that, I enjoy many varieties of restaurants. I like fresh and exciting flavours.

Thomas Coly: I love Borough market, under the train station, and all different types of food. I love London for its diversity of restaurants, you can eat Chinese, English, Italian, French, Peruvian, Polish…

If you could choose one person to cook a meal for you, who and what would it be?

Lee Kebble: My Mum and it would have to be Christmas dinner! She makes the best!

You’re going to have ten friends over for a spontaneous dinner, what will be on the table?

Lee Kebble: Lots of salads, probably homemade breads. I cook in the garden for most of the year so something from the BBQ is always on the go.

What was your childhood’s culinary favourite and what is it now?

Lee Kebble: There’s a family lemon cheesecake recipe that was always the winner when I was younger, only ever for special occasions.

Nowadays just simple seasonal fruits at their prime. You really can’t go wrong when at their peak.

At home, do you prefer to cook on your own or together with others?

Lee Kebble: I always involve my children as much as I can with cooking. I try to teach them to make pizza and homemade pasta. We bake a lot of fresh bread at home and it’s good to do this together.

Which meals do you prefer when you cook privately, improvised or planned?

Lee Kebble: There is fun in all aspects here. Sometimes the best meals are created with minimal ingredients at short notice.

On the other hand there is such a reward in planning and executing a meal that has been carefully created.

Which meal would you never cook again?

Lee Kebble: Anything with tripe, sorry it’s just not for me.

Thank you Lee and Thomas!

Scones & Tea Time at London's Brown's Hotel

 

Scones & Tea Time at London's Brown's Hotel

 

Scones & Tea Time at London's Brown's Hotel

 

Scones & Tea Time at London's Brown's Hotel

 

Scones & Tea Time at London's Brown's Hotel