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The best kitchens are the ones that are lived in. I’ve been very lucky – when we bought our house it just needed a bit of sprucing up. It meant I could create my dream kitchen – and it really is my dream kitchen: we've opened it up so it’s really light and bright, with lots of windows. For me, the most important thing is light – I spend so much time in there, the way lots of people sit at a desk all day. The guy who made our kitchen is a friend and I worked with him for years when we both worked for Jamie Oliver. He builds lots of kitchens for TV sets and photo shoots. While it’s beautiful – and therefore good for photography and filming – it’s also the centre of our house and a real family space. I can see my daughters when they're eating or playing, and it’s by no means minimalist – I like stuff.
Natural light is also key for taking good food photos. Turn off the lights and go sit next to the window and get that natural light – it makes all the difference. And try not to tamper with your images too much. I actually do very little to my photos on social media – I don't play around with filters and apps. Invest in a couple of nice plates, too – any crockery that has a glaze or sheen will give off a reflection. They don’t have to be expensive – Habitat has got a nice range of matte-finish plates that don't cost the earth. The same applies to surfaces – think outside the box and choose a nice tea towel or tablecloth. Texture is really important when shooting food. It doesn't have to be loud or colourful, but if you've got some nice textures and natural light, it will make a difference.
Appliance wise, it’s all in the details. The extraction fan is built into a box on the ceiling so that if there's a sound boom when we’re filming, it’s high enough that we won’t hit it. The ovens are mounted onto the wall instead of having a range. Ranges are lovely, but when you're on camera, bending down isn’t a good look. And then there’s a hob on the island, so I can be camera facing if needed.
Our back unit has a marble top, which is beautiful but a pain to look after. It’s the most high-maintenance surface I’ve ever encountered. But the island is a very beautiful charcoal-coloured slate, which means I can put hot things directly on it. All my appliances are Fisher & Paykel – I really like what the brand does. For example, we’ve got two dishwashers hidden behind drawers. With young kids and getting through the amount of washing up we do, installing two dishwashers was such a great move.
My mother-in-law despairs, as I don’t have any matching crockery. I love antiques, so I buy a lot from antique fairs. I've got lots of very old beautiful plates. The beauty of having a mixture of stuff is that you're never too precious about it. I also have more everyday pieces from Habitat and Heal’s. A good friend of mine is a ceramicist called Maham, and she makes beautiful items for restaurants like Darjeeling Express and Cinnamon Club, and it’s actually very usable. For the kids, there’s a beautiful shop called Molly Meg in north London, and I love ordering the bamboo sets. The same carpenter who built our kitchen also made a massive cabinet with four floor-to-ceiling glass and it's got all our plates and glasses in there. It’s such a feature in the kitchen as it takes over a whole wall.
There are three kitchen utensils I couldn’t live without. One is a Microplane grater. I’ve got all the different grater sizes and honestly, grating lemon zest and parmesan with the fine mode is an absolute game changer. It comes out like snow. I've also got a real range of knives – everything from handmade Blenheim Forge knives to ones my grandfather has passed on to me from when he had his restaurant. Then there is a very beautiful vintage whisk a friend gave me. It’s one of those where you turn the handle by hand. I cook a lot with my eldest daughter, who’s four-and-a-half, she sits on our island and I can hand her the whisk so she can help – it’s kid friendly, really old and just a beautiful bit of kit.
When it comes to pots and pans, Netherton Foundry makes lovely cast-iron pots that are proper heirloom pieces. I have quite a few Le Creuset casseroles too. They’re not cheap but they're the kind of things that are just timeless and you can put both brands straight on the table. My latest book focuses on vegan, plant-based food and it's all about dishes from Eastern Europe, the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Cast iron pans really come into their own with a plant-based diet because you don't have things like animal fat to give you flavour. What you cook your food in makes such a difference – if you only use non-stick pans, you’ll miss the flavour you can get into food by using cast iron pots when caramelisation forms on the bottom.
Drawer dividers have been a game-changer. We don't have any cupboards in the kitchen apart from the big glass-fronted cabinet. Everything else is a drawer. Cupboards are a waste of space in a way because you can never get to the back of them. With drawers, everything feels so much more organised and you can keep on top of all your stuff.
For me, cooking is about nostalgia. I'm lucky because I've been cooking since I was really little, as my family had a restaurant. One of the first things I remember learning to cook was cakes with my mum. My mum always baked with us – we’d come home from school and make fairy cakes with green and red glacé cherries – very 80s. It's a lovely memory and something I definitely still do now, and want to pass on to my own girls. As I got older, I learned to make more elaborate dishes, such as stuffed vine leaves or avgolemono lemony soup, which is a Greek chicken, lemon and egg soup you make when you're poorly.
Is there a meal I don't put chilli oil on? Probably not. But the main ingredient I rely on most is rice. Everyone has their favourite carbohydrate: mine is rice. I get through bags of the stuff a week. You can create a meal with very little if you’ve got a bag of rice – between rice, eggs and a few frozen vegetables you've got a meal straight away. It cooks in 10 minutes, you can make nutritious food very quickly and if all else fails, I know I can always knock-up a nasi goreng, a lovely Indonesian dish, with some soy, honey and vegetables.
We bought a wood oven a couple of years ago for the garden. If I’m entertaining at home, there's a dish called tava, which is in my second book Taverna, and it's one of my favourite dishes. It’s the most bung-it-all-together, low-effort thing to make – just put lamb neck, rice, cumin, tomatoes, potatoes and onions in a massive tray. Wrap it up in foil, put in your oven and forget about it for a few hours and it's incredibly delicious. But if you put it in the wood oven, it's next level.
When I’m entertaining, I like to make one big dish that doesn't require attention. If you’re entertaining, you’ve got to be a good host. You can’t be standing there messing around with bits and bobs and saucers of garnishes. I want the food to look after itself so I can talk to my friends. I’ll have lots of bits on the side that you can prepare advance, like olives, a bowl of hummus, fresh bread, a big chopped salad. If you don’t have time to make your own hummus, buy it. For me, the big thing is having one showstopping main dish.
The best party I’ve ever thrown was New Year's Eve 2018. At the time, our daughter was one-and-a-half and none of our friends had kids. We were still at that age where we thought we could be really cool parents and still party. Little did we know that our friends would still be there at 4am and our daughter up at 6am. It was the worst New Year’s Day of my life. But the party was amazing – we had about 15 guests and I did a really informal, gorgeous dinner. I set the table and made a delicious Vietnamese coconut and slow-cooked beef recipe by my friend v. Her Angel restaurant – and the cookbook the recipe’s in – is called The Little Viet Kitchen. It’s another one-pot wonder and I served it with lots of French sticks and loads of salad and let everyone tuck in. People don't care if there aren’t loads of dishes – with a wickedly delicious dish like that, people just lost their minds.
When it comes to cocktails, I do love a picante. I love any sort of margarita with chilli or ginger in it. Picantes are great if you're just making a few as they’re quite involved. However if I'm entertaining, I will make a batch of chilli margaritas with sugar syrup, chilli, lots of ginger and millions of limes, then just mix that with tequila and serve over ice. It's something you can make in advance, and you can stretch it out rather than having to make individual drinks constantly.
My glassware collection has everything – from Ikea tumblers to crystal glasses I inherited from my grandmother. I’ve also got some really nice LSA wine glasses and some vintage champagne coupe glasses.
My cookbook collection is out of control – it’s absolutely groaning. I think Yotam Ottolenghi is a genius and I find myself going back to his books time and again – I think Jerusalem is one of the best he’s ever written. I'm a big fan of Asian food, so people like Maunika Gowardhan of @CookInACurry are inspiring. Her latest book is called Thali and is gorgeous – as is her first book, Indian Kitchen – and they both teach me everything I want to know about Indian cooking and use my favourite flavours.
On Sundays I tend to batch-cook porridge. There’s a recipe in my first book, Stirring Slowly, which is based on a porridge I ate when I was working in New York with a famous chef on her book. I ate this porridge at her restaurant and remember asking why it was the best I’d ever had, and the secret ingredient wasn’t double cream, it was pinhead oats. They take 45 minutes to cook down – which is why it's a weekend thing – but they go from being bullets to super creamy. It tastes unreal. We'll have that on Sunday with brown sugar on top, which melts and caramelises. I’ll Tupperware up the rest and we’ll eat it during the week. More often than not, the girls will want to make pancakes – which I'm totally fine with as we’ll do them with lots of yoghurt and berries. My favourite cake tin brand is called Nordicware, and I've got a frying pan of which makes individual American-style in the shape of snowflakes from Frozen. My daughter always wants Frozen pancakes, so that’s what we do at the weekends.