A Top Chef Shares Her Kitchen Essentials
A Top Chef Shares Her Kitchen Essentials

A Top Chef Shares Her Kitchen Essentials

As one half of London’s coolest caterers (Arnold & Henderson, who’ve catered parties for Kate Moss, no less) and one half of the capital’s most influential food couple (her husband is St John’s Fergus Henderson), Margot Henderson is a stalwart on the British dining scene. Here, the founder of Rochelle Canteen – one of the capital’s buzziest restaurants – shares her favourite kitchen essentials and the food memories she associates with them…

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The Kitchen Table

Our kitchen was designed by architect Douglas Stewart, and the whole kitchen is workspace – the idea being we could have four cooks happily working away at the same time. At the centre of it all is the kitchen table, which was designed by architect Brian Henderson, my husband Fergus’s dad. The table has been in the family for about 40 years, and Fergus and I have spent 30 years sitting at with family and friends. Our children have grown up with it. It’s a beautiful table and is a great size – we’ve had everything from four to 20 around the table. It’s also a table that is adaptable and loving, it takes its knocks happily and the pattern of time wears well with it. Absorbing all stains, red wine is there for a moment and then over a few days just disappears.

My Collection Of Wooden Spoons

Wooden spoons, petals, large spoons, small spoons, tasting spoons... I am passionate about wooden spoons, we have so many we’ve collected over the years, from a spurtle for stirring porridge to large traditional spatulas. I love the gentleness of wood and its sound when stirring, which is such an important part of cooking – to stir or not to stir is always the question. I also have a little bundle of wooden spoons for tasting. Again, they are giving and gentle.

A Garlic Crusher

The first dish I learned to cook was snails, garlic and breadcrumbs. I was about eight. We were studying French and had to bring snails in from the garden. I loved it… well, who doesn’t love fried garlic? It then became my thing, and I would cook them for my mother’s dinner parties and was given snails for my birthday.

My Black Iron Pot 

I love this pot for cooking rice, broths and Japanese dishes. I love the weight of it, and the heaviness of the lid. My favourite pots are iron. One is a Sarpaneva cast iron three-litre pot, designed by Timo Sarpaneva. It is splendidly beautiful and a useful joy. The weight comforts me, its sits well on heat and it absorbs ingredients generously without burning things. The lid fits perfectly and is ideal for cooking rice, as it requires something snug that can be turned down to a very low heat. I’d say the cooking at home is pretty evenly shared between the two of us. I like to cook Asian, whereas Fergus likes to cook a poached chicken or mince and tatties.

A Game-Changing Peeler

A wide cook peeler is one of the great joys of life – there is no point in peeling with anything else. I always use the overlap technique, like mowing the lawn, gentle strokes, from up to down. I found my wide peeler about 40 years ago at one of my first visits to Brick Lane. It’s a game changer and the perfect stocking filler.

Rochelle Canteen
Rochelle Canteen
Rochelle Canteen
Rochelle Canteen

My Lancashire Hotpot 

My brown pottery Lancashire hotpot was given to me by my mother-in-law, Elizabeth Henderson, who’s a wonderful cook. I love making Lancashire hotpots – a beautiful dish where bony bits of lamb neck go into this beautiful pot with water, turnips and onions, and then cooks away gently getting to know each other. A dish that can cook away slowly all day is always a winner and the pot itself is a beauty. It’s good enough to admire on the kitchen shelf.

Our Alto Stools

Where would I be without a pile of Alto stools? Our children grew up learning the perfect way to balance on a three-legged stool, and I have even been known to dance on them! These are stools that last a life and longer, and we’ve also got them at Rochelle Canteen. As friends gather, all the stools come out and slide into the gaps around the table. Sometimes it’s quite a squeeze, but then everyone finds their space and relaxes – my perfect Sunday involves friends and family sitting around with good wine, roast pork belly, apple sauce, roast potatoes and cabbage.

A Truffle Shaver

At Jasper Conran’s Italian wedding we served a one-dish white truffle pasta. The smell of 250 people all having truffle shaved for them was a giddy moment.

Rochelle Canteen
Rochelle Canteen

My Collection Of Pottery Bowls

Olive Harty makes beautiful porcelain pottery and I have recently started to collect her work. The shapes are effortless and a joy to hold food in. They are surprisingly hard-wearing and, most importantly, can cope with me and the dishwasher. Her jugs are my go-to addition to any table, holding a bunch of flowers or broths and sauces.

My Mushroom Knife 

When Hector, our first child, was born, Fergus bought me a mushroom knife. Some are given diamonds, but I was given a knife and it always makes me smile. I am passionate about knives and have a drawer packed with all sorts, but this little knife is very precious (not that I am often mushroom hunting). It’s one of my dearest tools.

Rochelle Canteen, 16 Playground Gardens, Shoreditch, E2 7FA

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