My Perfect Autumn Weekend: Chef Claire Fyfe
My Perfect Autumn Weekend: Chef Claire Fyfe

My Perfect Autumn Weekend: Chef Claire Fyfe

Cosy knits, pub roasts and long walks – we love autumn, so we’ve asked a handful of our favourite women to share what they’re most excited about this season. This time, MasterChef finalist and top chef Claire Fyfe talks us through what a perfect autumnal weekend in Berkshire looks like to her.
By Heather Steele

All products on this page have been selected by our editorial team, however we may make commission on some products.



I love this time of year. I’m all about cosy knits, the crisp, colder air, autumnal colours and warming comfort foods. I also have a soft spot for Halloween – the child in me still likes to carve pumpkins every year. Always remember to keep the seeds – they are absolutely delicious roasted with olive oil and sea salt, and I like to throw them on top of salads or soups to jazz them up. 

If I'm not hosting a supper club at home, we tend to meet friends or go out for dinner on Friday nights. We moved from London to near Pangbourne in West Berkshire in February. A real indulgence is an early dinner at nearby Heckfield Place. They do the most incredible sustainable set menu, using up all their wonderful ingredients. Then we’ll head downstairs to its beautiful cinema to watch a film with a couple of cocktails. I’ve recently got into tequila, and the spicy margarita is amazing. Otherwise, I'm slightly odd in the way I like an Aperol Spritz all year round. For a warming non-alcoholic option, Mother Root hits the spot.

Most of my friends are big foodies. When we meet up, it will almost always be centred around food and we take it in turns to try new places. We would normally try to do something beforehand, like Pilates or boxing, to make us feel better about how much we are about to eat. A friend recently introduced me to Maison Francois on Duke Street and it was so good – it also has a really cool bar called Frank’s downstairs. In London, I really love The River Café, Luca, Fiend and Fallow. Luca does the most ridiculously good parmesan fries, and I’ll always order pasta – either their sausage ragu with mint and anchovy or vongole. The sweetcorn fritters at Fallow are genius. I’m not a big pudding person, but for me a meal would not be complete without The River Café’s ice cream. One scoop of pistachio plus one of hazelnut equals heaven.


My boyfriend owns Workshop coffee, so I always start the day with a pot. We have an all-singing, all-dancing coffee machine in our house which terrified me to begin with, but I can now make a pretty good cup.

My dream Saturday set-up would involve a bit of a lie-in, followed by the papers, brunch, coffee and Saturday Kitchen on the TV. Then I would hit the gym, as I always feel better after a bit of exercise. The Movement Barn in Englefield is a fantastic gym. Harry and Dexter are awesome and the workouts are challenging, but fun. My friend Claire (@WeAreTableAndTribe) is an amazing local yoga instructor, who is finally getting me into it after all these years.

On a Saturday, I love exploring some of the local market towns. I recently went to Marlborough and stumbled upon an incredible boutique called Willow & Wolf. Our closest village, Yattendon, has two great pubs: The Royal Oak and The Pot Kiln, which is also a lovely flower shop and post office which sells everything but the kitchen sink. On Saturdays, Kim at Marlston Farmgirl sells her locally grown flowers, so I’ll pop in there, then there’s a lovely interiors shop in Pangbourne called Kiki & Bow. We bought some lovely bedside tables and lamp bases in there when we first moved. 

When we were in London, my favourite food shop was Bayley & Sage. We would always get the amazing black olive bread sticks and red pepper dip, which would last all of two minutes. Now we’ve moved to the country I'm spoilt for choice with local produce. Vickers Farm Shop has the most incredible selection of meat and the most helpful butcher. I’ll do an Ocado shop for the rest.


My autumnal cooking reflects the season. I’ll use a lot of roasted squash and pumpkins to make homemade soups for lunch. Right now, I’m loving my roast butternut squash and sage soup, with chilli and maple halloumi croutons – they are so addictive. Sage is another seasonal winner. It’s delicious fried in olive oil and butter until crispy. I also love a seasonal veggie tray bake with heaps of harissa and lemon zest – perfect on its own or a great side dish.

I adore all of Diana Henry's cookbooks. Her storytelling and recipes are magical. At this time of year my favourite is From The Oven To The Table, which is full of an array of one-pot wonders. Two recipes I can’t get enough of at the moment are her chicken with cauliflower and ’nduja and chicken with wild mushrooms, pumpkin, rice and sage butter. It’s the biggest hug in a bowl. I'm also a huge fan of Ben Tish and his book Sicilia is a go-to. His Sicilian lemon creams with stewed blackberries is a dinner party must – no stress, but utterly indulging and delicious.

The Retreat at Elcot Park in Berkshire has just opened. It’s run by some great friends and ex-colleagues, Hector and Ronnie, who also used to work at The Mitre Hampton Court. It’s a beautiful country retreat that serves great food, so I’ll often head there on a Saturday. It has a great pan-Asian restaurant and a spa, plus it's good for kids.


I’m on a mission to make porridge sexy again. My pear, blackberry and apple compote with star anise and cinnamon is a winning combo, and really sets you up on a cold morning. Also, if I have leftovers (which is very rare), it makes the best base for a warming crumble.

As well as a spring clean, I always do an autumn clean. There is something quite therapeutic about it, and it sets you up for winter. The garden is currently filled with herbs, which not only makes it smell wonderful, but I also use them in almost all of my cooking. I'm not exactly green fingered – but it's on the 2023 list! I also tend to take care of my hands a bit more at this time of year. The Aesop aromatic hand cream smells so good and it's not greasy. It's also the only time of year I wear colour on my nails – right now, I’m loving OPI 32.

Sundays are usually nice and slow, and we will often go for a walk before lunch. We have so many great walks around us, but one I love most is the loop on the Englefield Estate. Right now, I’m living in Axel Arigato high tops, leather leggings and a Varley sweat top. My favourite coat is my Maje parka. It’s so cosy and practical, but a little chic at the same time.


The Princess Royal, Notting Hill
The Princess Royal, Notting Hill

I love a roast. In London, I would book a table at The Princess Royal in Notting Hill or The Fox & Pheasant in Chelsea. I don’t really cook that much pork at home, so if we’re out for Sunday lunch I will order that or stick with classic roast beef. The Princess Royal does the most delicious porchetta with garlic and rosemary stuffing – it’s insane. It’s also quite light for a roast, so you don’t end up feeling stuffed. A roast for me has to be as good as its sides. The kitchen serves its up with perfectly crisp roasties, sprouting broccoli, Yorkshires and pickled red cabbage, which brings such a lovely contrast to the plate. I also love The Wellington Arms in Berkshire. It’s quaint, serves delicious food and is run by lovely people.

There’s something quite nice about hunkering down at home with the dark nights creeping in. On a Sunday evening, I like to light the fire, pour a glass of wine and potter in the kitchen, tweaking recipes for my new cookbook, with Strictly on in the background (my guilty pleasure!) or Yellowstone (I'm obsessed and love Kevin Costner). Then I’ll have a bath and go to bed with a book. I’m currently reading Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty, and I recently finished Where The Crawdads Sing, which I loved. I was never a huge reader (I used to only read cookbooks) but over the last few years I’ve really got into it. When you work for yourself it’s hard to stop sometimes, so we’ve made a pact to turn our phones off before dinner. Now reading in bed, even if it’s a few pages, is how I unwind.

For more ideas and inspiration, follow Claire at @ClaireFyfeCooks – and for recipes, inspiration and private dining enquiries, visit

Fashion. Beauty. Culture. Life. Home
Delivered to your inbox, daily