An Exclusive Look Inside Margie Nomura’s Kitchen
An Exclusive Look Inside Margie Nomura’s Kitchen

An Exclusive Look Inside Margie Nomura’s Kitchen

Margie Nomura is a professional chef and host of the chart-topping foodie podcast, Desert Island Dishes, where each week a different guest talks to her about the seven dishes that have shaped their life. To find out more about her own cooking must-haves, what she’s currently making at home and her secrets to entertaining in style, she showed us around her London kitchen...
By Heather Steele

My kitchen is my happy place. I know it’s a total cliché, but it really is the heart of our home. It’s the first place everyone heads to when they come through the front door.

I’m really lucky that I get to cook for a living, so a lot of my time is spent in the kitchen and it’s where I work on my podcast too. But more than that, it’s now where I cook all the food for my two daughters. They love joining in with the cooking and making a mess which I love, as I remember doing that with my mum. We have a large wooden table where we eat all our meals and it’s often covered in paper for them to draw all over. I have to check the oven every time before I turn it on as there are often muffin trays and saucepans in there filled with plasticine ‘mud pies’. Our kitchen isn’t precious, it’s hard working and I love it all the more for that.

Working in a professional kitchen means you have to be tidy as you cook – I can’t cook efficiently with a messy workstation, and if you clear and tidy as you go, it makes life so much easier. I hate washing up – it’s definitely the worst part of my job, but if you do it as it goes, it's far less painful. One of the top tips I learnt in a professional kitchen is to keep a bowl next to you as you work for peelings and off-cuts and that way you keep your area tidy and don’t have to constantly clean down your countertops and make lots of little trips to the bin. My husband is constantly laughing at me as I forever have a tea towel attached to me at all times, which is a hangover from professional kitchen life.

Our kitchen was already here when we moved in. It’s more than 15 years old but we were so lucky that the people who lived here before and installed the kitchen were professional chefs, so they really thought of everything. One thing we have which I don’t think I would have installed – as it didn’t seem necessary, but now I honestly don’t think I could be without – is a boiling water tap. It’s life changing.

I’m obsessed with kitchenware. I love things to be functional but also stylish. I have an abundance of pots and pans that work hard but also look good when taken straight to the table. Le Creuset is hard to beat and I also have some of my grannies' old pots and they are still going strong. I think Our Place is doing great things and The Garden Trading Company does some lovely cast-iron pieces. I have some quality copper roasting trays from John Lewis and some lovely spattered ones from Daylesford and Habitat.

My husband is constantly laughing at me as I forever have A TEA TOWEL ATTACHED TO ME AT ALL TIMES, which is a hangover from professional kitchen life.

I also love tableware. I have a huge collection and love decorating the table with gorgeous tablecloths, tablemats, vases filled with flowers, lots of candles for dinner parties and I have more water jugs than I care to admit. But I love how these things can elevate even the simplest meal – you can have friends over and serve homemade pizza but if you’ve laid the table and made everything look lovely, it’s a real occasion. I’m obsessed with everything from Penny Morrison, I’ve even got some of her plates hanging on the wall in our kitchen. I also like Late Afternoon, Maison Margaux, Sophie Conran, Hot Pottery and Sobremesa, then Summerill & Bishop and Mrs Alice for tablecloths. We were also given Sophie Conran plates for our wedding, and I love The Vintage List glasses for special occasions. For every day, we have the La Rochere Bee glasses from John Lewis.

Every kitchen should have a good set of knives and a knife sharpener – chopping with a blunt knife is no fun. I also recommend a microplane grater, which I use multiple times every day and could not live without. I use it for parmesan, lemons, garlic – it’s in constant use. I also use my Nutribullet blender every day. It is so useful for whipping up a quick pesto, a smoothie or a quick puree.

The first dish I really mastered, with my mum's help, was a roast chicken. Sunday lunch was a really important part of family life growing up and my mum makes an amazing Sunday lunch. I really wanted to carry on this tradition and for Sunday lunch to become an important part of my girls’ life, so I make sure we all sit down and have a lovely meal every week. Family meals are so important, the best conversations happen over food when you're all sitting down and chatting and just enjoying being with each other.

We use a lot of beans and pulses at home. They are so versatile, quick to cook with and a great source of protein. The Bold Bean Co beans are the best I've found, and I love serving them in a quick tomato stew with crusty bread. We also go through a lot of hummus in our house – I love it so much, and it’s so easy to make. I like to serve it with some roasted chickpeas and pickled red onions on the top for a delicious dinner party starter. I also couldn’t live without good quality olive oil, buckets of Maldon salt, garlic, lemons, tinned tomatoes, Belazu tahini and mayonnaise.

I am not someone who can do one big shop a week. Instead, I like to decide what to cook on the day and have a bit more flexibility. Luckily, we have lots of fruit and vegetable markets near where we live so I can pick ingredients up as I need them. I get excited every time the seasons change as it brings in a whole new set of produce and ingredients. I love this time of year when ingredients like asparagus and jersey royals are in season. I look forward every year to the Isle of Wight tomatoes, too. When they’re in season, they really only need the smallest amount of sea salt to really bring them to life. Using ingredients at their peak is such an easy way to make your food a million times better without any effort.

One of the things I love to make if I’m entertaining is a whole roasted cauliflower which you can parboil, roast and then sit it on a little garlicky yoghurt and top it with tahini and a chimichurri. I’ve been making it for years and recently shared it on our social media and it went a little crazy – seven million views and counting! It’s amazing to know a dish I’ve loved for so long and made for my closest friends is now a recipe so many others have tried and loved too.

@desertislanddishes

Whole roasted cauliflower served on garlicky yoghurt, drizzled with tahini and a chimichurri style sauce. It’s SO GOOD. The cauliflower is like butter, you could cut it with a spoon. #cauliflower #tahini #easyentertaining

♬ Jazz masterpiece "As time goes by" covered by a Jazz violinist by profession(962408) - ricca
You can have friends over and SERVE PIZZA, but if you’ve LAID THE TABLE and made everything look lovely, IT'S A REAL OCCASION.

When I ask my podcast guests the secret to a good dinner party, the answer is universally the same: make sure you’re organised and get as much done ahead of time as possible so you can relax and enjoy your friends' company. Keep things simple and remember people are there to see you and have a lovely time – your guests aren’t expecting restaurant-quality food. Summer parties are always fun and my husband will usually do something delicious and slow cooked on the BBQ and I will make lots of salads so that everyone can just help themselves buffet style. My favourite kind of entertainment is when it’s relaxed, informal and everyone has a great time.

My daughters absolutely love spaghetti bolognese. I love cooking big batches of it and then freezing for future meals when I don’t have time to make it from scratch. It bubbles away for a couple of hours on the hob doing its thing, so it’s relatively low-maintenance and doesn’t require much attention. I like to add a little splash of milk to it, which I know isn’t authentic but it adds a very delicious creaminess to it.

We always have porridge for breakfast.  But it’s always different – sometimes with grated apple and cinnamon, sometimes with stewed berries or caramelised bananas but always with a good dollop of Greek yoghurt and a drizzle of nut butter.

The dish I’ve been loving most this year is my triple-chocolate brownies. They became a bit of a signature of mine when I was working as a private chef, I could never take them off the menu as people always wanted them. And now whenever I go to see friends or family, I know without being asked that I have to bring a tray of brownies.

My go-to cookbook isn't really a cookbook at all. My mum has these amazing scrapbooks of recipes that she’s collected over the years and every week she goes through them and decides what she’s going to cook for the week ahead. I love looking at them and find them to be a constant source of inspiration. I have piles of recipes torn out of magazines and newspapers, but I'm not as organised as my mum. I rarely cook from recipe books but love reading them. My favourites include anything by Elizabeth David, Julia Child and Nigel Slater. I think Claire Thompson of the 5 O’Clock Apron is an amazing cookery writer and I love all her books as well.

I’m currently working on season seven of Desert Island Dishes. As well as food, we find out about the people behind the food and get an insight into their life which you wouldn't necessarily get in another interview. So far this season I’ve sat down with Twiggy, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and John Torode to uncover their seven seminal dishes. We’ve just launched a mini episode to sit alongside the main episode each week called The Dream Dinner Party. It’s just one question so it’s shorter than the main episode and we’ve got some amazing guests. They talk us through their dream dinner party menu and who they would invite. They are allowed four guests who can be dead or alive, and it’s impossible to listen without thinking of your own answers.

For more from Margie, visit DesertIslandDishes.co and follow her on TikTok
and Instagram.


INSPIRED? SHOP MARGIE’S EDIT OF PRODUCTS & HACKS BELOW

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