The restaurant from my childhood that will always stay with me is Rick Stein in Cornwall. I used to go to with my grandparents when I was younger. I think it’s more the memories and excitement of restaurants at such a young age that I remember, and feeling so grown up. I always used to look forward to dessert – frozen berries and hot white chocolate that melted into each other. I still recreate it today.
The first dish I learned to cook must have been tiramisu. I had a very sweet tooth as a child (and still do) and I had been on holiday to Italy, and I just remember constantly wanting to re-create this perfect dessert – and not eat anything else once I got home.
The restaurant I’ve visited the most in London is Trinity in Clapham. I love the menu and how straight forward it is, and I always want to order everything. The beef tartare with caviar is amazing, and the kitchen is famous for its apple tarte tatin – a little off-menu, pre-order must-know before you go.
I don’t have a favourite chef. Instead, I love taking inspiration from others around me, going to eat in other restaurants and just loving what those around me do.
It’s hard to pick a top new opening, as it’s been an extremely difficult year for the industry, but I would like to highlight an old favourite that closed due to Covid-19 – The Ledbury in Notting Hill. I have so many amazing memories there, the team’s use of British ingredients is amazing, especially venison. Let’s hope a new opening comes out on the other side for Brett Graham and his amazing team.
My most memorable meal has to be at Eleven Madison Park in New York. I was 20, and it was the first time I’d explored the very best of Michelin – I just remember being so amazed by the whole experience. I can still remember every detail. The meal finished with a chocolate quiz, where you had to guess the milk used from goats, buffalos, cows and sheep. I loved the interactive experience.
In the year we have had, pubs seem to be something of a fond memory. When it comes to pubs, I love to go somewhere where the food is good. A somewhat local for me is the Harwood Arms. The bar adds little touches to their drinks just to stand out – I love the bergamot G&T. The perfect Sunday afternoon.
As for my favourite London bar, it would have to be the Connaught Bar. I have some very happy memories there with the team. The atmosphere is a dream, and it’s currently ranked the World’s Best Bar. Giorgio, the director of mixology, knows what I like, and often creates something he knows I’ll enjoy using fruity and fresh ingredients.
I am trying to learn to love Sundays, as traditionally I’ve always been working. These days I look forward to just relaxing with a roast chicken and some downtime. I think chicken is so underrated and often not done right. I love showing people how to do a proper roast.
After a long, late shift, I am always looking for something salty. Sometimes by the time I get home I am over it, but there is nothing a packet of salt and vinegar crisps can’t fix.
Where I shop for ingredients depends on what I’m cooking. I often try to use my suppliers from the restaurant if it is meat or fish because they are the best, but I love a trip to Waitrose and Whole Foods for at-home essentials.
My favourite dining companions are definitely a mix of my friends. There is nothing better than a catch-up dinner with my closest girls.
If I’m entertaining at home, my signature dish is a showstopper pavlova served with champagne.
My dream dinner guest? Embarrassing, but it’s definitely Jude Law… because how many times have we all watched The Holiday?
The secret to hosting a good dinner party is preparation. Over the years I’ve grown to understand how important it is to spend time with your guests and not spend the whole evening cooking. Of course, I love to make something 'extra', but it has to be easy to prepare in advance.
A takeaway is everyone’s guilty pleasure. My favourite has to be a ramen or curry. Generally, if I am getting a takeaway it’s got to be something I can get stuck into quickly. Ramen in London is easy to find, but a very good one takes a little bit more experience. Kanada-ya in Picadilly and Koi Ramen Bar in Pop Brixton are my two favourites. If I’m in a rush, Tonkotsu in Selfridges is always a good fix.
The one dish I always order if I see it on the menu is… Anything with truffle.
I am a gin and tonic girl. I always like it served with a slice of cucumber. My gin of choice would be Monkey 47.
As a chef, my fridge is normally quite empty, as most of my meals are eaten with my team. My go-to quick mid-week meal would have to be rice noodles, with some brassicas, soy and sesame. I top them with some toasted seeds which I always have in my kitchen and some salmon if I have it.
My most-used ingredient in the kitchen is kosher salt. Both at home and work, the right salt is so essential for the best cooking. I love the feel it has in my fingers and it’s not as aggressive as a lot of other salts.
The most decadent meal I've ever had would have to be the one I ate at Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athenee in Paris – Paris is always decadent anyway, right? But this was totally extra in every way and I loved it. The langoustines with caviar were epic.
My death-row dinner would be incredibly difficult to choose, but one thing I love no matter what, is ramen, closely followed by cheese and biscuits. I’m all about the simple things done right. I’d finish off with a sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice-cream.
The one thing I hate is oysters. I have tried to like them so many times, but they’re just not my friends at all. Who knows, maybe they will try to slide into my future, but not any time soon.
During lockdown, I have been baking a lot and experimenting with gluten-free methods, as I have recently found out I am coeliac. I’m learning to work around that and it has been so interesting.
We launched Stanley’s in the middle of a pandemic. It has been an extremely strange time – there have definitely been a lot of highs and lows – but I think having everyone coming out of lockdown really boosts morale and everyone is so happy to get out and eat. I am pretty sure a lot of people think we are mad, and maybe we are, but sometimes you just have to take a risk. I can’t wait for more evenings at Stanley’s, with guests sitting outside under the umbrellas, sipping cocktails in better times.
Stanley’s, 151 Sydney Street, Chelsea, SW3 6NT