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My kitchen is quite small. I live in a basement flat rental in Hackney, but I’m lucky as it has an extension that lets in a lot of light. The doors open out into the garden and in the summer, I tend to do a lot of cooking outside, whether it be cooking pizza or podding peas. It makes it feel bigger and when the sun shines, even a little Mediterranean.
I’m in love with my Sage coffee machine. I got mine in the first lockdown and it has been a total gamechanger. A good coffee in the morning is a must. I have the Barista Pro as it grinds beans well, froths milk to perfection and even keeps your coffee cups warm on the top. I also love Magimix food processors. I have a regular one and a mini one. Both have lasted me at least ten years.
My most recent kitchen purchase was a pasta rolling and cutting attachment for my Smeg stand mixer. I’ve been making a lot of pasta recently, and it’s much easier than hand rolling.
I tend to buy vintage plates or find them through independent ceramicists. I pick lots up at flea and antique markets, as well as eBay, but also love Mason & Painter on Columbia Road. I also have a forever expanding collection of plates from Skandihus, KANA, Jess Joslin and Lazy Eye ceramics. They are all London-based female ceramicists. I love how different all of their work is; I’ll probably be buying their plates and bowls forever.
My glassware collection is a real mix. My favourite glasses are very fine glass champagne coupes from the 1920s. My fiancé actually found them, and we bring them out whenever we have something to celebrate. I regularly find ways to celebrate with a dry Grey Goose martini and their small size make them perfect for this. I love OKA, too, and have lots of their wine glasses, but I also love the classic Duralex tumblers. They’re perfect for more relaxed evenings or eating al fresco.
My most-trusted pot is my risotto pan. It’s a high-sided non-stick frying pan and I use it at least once a week. It is primarily used for risotto, but I also make a delicious miso peanut stir-fry in there.
My must-have utensils include a food processor for whizzing up pestos, salsas and sauces and even for chopping herbs and nuts. Everyone needs a good cast-iron griddle pan, too. Mine was my grandmother’s – it’s still going strong and always makes me think of her when I use it. And lastly, I couldn’t live without a set of kitchen tongs. I use them for everything from turning grilling veg to plunging panko prawns into hot oil.
When it comes to kitchen designers, I love Humphrey Munson. If and when I ever get to design a kitchen of my own, I would go to Lousia. I also love some of the paint colours available from Devol kitchens too.
My fiancé works in film and is a lighting fanatic, so he makes sure the lighting game is strong throughout the home. My kitchen is quite starkly lit with daylight bulbs, but the bulbs in the dining area are tungsten, which are softer and have more of a golden glow. Whenever we can, we eat by candlelight only. I love having lots of candles on the table and pillar candles on the surrounding surfaces or even in hurricane lamps on the floor. It just makes everything feel more romantic.
For food styling and taking photos of food, the key is to use natural light and make sure you’ve got your set up sorted well before you plate up. If you don’t, the food starts to look a bit sad and it also gets cold.
The first dish I learned to cook was lemon drizzle cake. My grandmother taught me. I still make it occasionally and used to make it a lot for my father, but I tend to mix it up now. I love experimenting with cakes. I’d also say a fried egg could have been the first thing I taught myself to cook. I remember standing on a chair over the cooker and going through about 24 eggs.
I try to get all the good stuff into my system in the morning. So I usually start my day with a smoothie made with frozen banana and spinach as well as peanut butter, adaptogen powder and a plant-based protein. I love Wunder Workshop’s shroom powders. I am an avid coffee drinker, too, and its adaptogens seem to keep my caffeine level balanced as opposed to bouncing off the walls.
I’m spoilt for choice when it comes to shopping for ingredients and live practically next door to a fantastic greengrocer. They have every piece of fruit and veg under the sun. If you need it, they have it. But what I like most of all is they always prioritise what’s in season and the price reflects that too – as it should. We are in mid-February now, so I’m all about using blood oranges, forced rhubarb and purple sprouting broccoli. I have three fishmongers close by, too – Fin and Flounder, Jaines & Son and Steve Hatt – all of which I love. And I also order a lot from Belazu. I adore its rose harissa and regularly stock up on its selection of rice and vinegars too. The arborio rice and moscatal vinegar are particular favourites.
During lockdown, I’ve been ordering from some of the restaurant and fish companies who are now doing deliveries. It’s so important to support British fishermen. A few weeks ago, I ordered a fantastic delivery from Wright Brothers – whole cooked lobster, scallops, wonderful prawns and a dover sole. It was a very delicious weekend.
I love entertaining at home. What I cook changes with the season, but I love doing a heavily-laden bruschetta – something with a creamy messy burrata and vegetables such as peppers, either oven grilled or fried off with a little garlic. I’ll finish it with parsley, basil, lemon zest and olive oil.
The secret to hosting a good dinner party is to prep ahead and make sure the menu is easy. There is nothing worse than a flustered host and you want to make sure you can enjoy the party too.
The best party I’ve ever thrown was probably my 30th birthday. I cooked for 35 people and we had Secret Smokehouse salmon on homemade blinis, then roasted acorn squash with burrata stracciatella with a sage and hazelnut pesto to start, followed by slow-cooked saffron and fennel chicken; rosemary roasted new potatoes; roasted broccoli and green beans with almonds; and a seed and nut-spiked butternut squash and pomegranate salad. I confess I didn’t make the pudding. The wonderful Violet bakery, run by Claire Ptak, did a booze-soaked devils’ food cake with a vanilla buttercream. It was delicious.
My go-to midweek meal is dahl. I cook a big batch of dahl every two to three weeks and freeze it in portions. It’s perfect for evenings when I am working late or have been cooking all day and need a break. I like to serve it with a little kefir and love to make Romy Gill’s hari green chutney from her fantastic book Zaika.
On the subject of cookbooks, there are far too many to mention, but the books I reach for most are probably Elizabeth David’s Italian Food (I love her risotto milanese and recipe for batter) and all of the River Café cookbooks for fresh pasta (fool-proof) and the pear and almond tart with a scoop of ice-cream (quite possibly my last meal).
The cupboard essentials I can’t live without? Miso paste, good anchovies, dried chillis and toasted sesame oil.
Controversially I don’t love a Sunday roast. My ideal Sunday lunch is probably leftovers from Saturday’s feast, served with lots of roasted veg, perhaps some fish, and lots of good bread and olive oil for dipping. I tend to have a big Sunday breakfast too and spend most of Saturday cooking (which I love), so Sunday is a bit more of a relaxed day.
Like everyone else, during lockdown I’ve been perfecting my sourdough skills, but I’ve also been making a lot of sushi and pasta. I love anything that has a bit of a process to it and requires some time. There is nothing I like more than cracking open a bottle of wine and listening to music while prepping a feast.
I’d love to say my kitchen is stress and clutter free. It’s certainly not, but when it comes to running a kitchen for dinner parties and supper clubs, I’ve learnt to almost expect something to go wrong. I take it as it comes and always remember that above all I am there to have fun and enjoy the evening. It’s so easy to get wound up and think you have to be stressed to achieve anything. The truth is you don’t – and life is a lot more fun as a result.