NigelMend­ham

Food and Travel (UK) - - After Hours -

What’s your ear­li­est food mem­ory? My mum al­ways used to make boiled pork belly with cab­bage and pota­toes – it doesn’t sound like much but it’s de­li­cious. It’s a real one-pot won­der done in a pres­sure cooker and I al­ways ask her to cook it for me when I’m home. My aunt used to make lots of old-school pud­dings like spot­ted dick and jam roly-poly. They’re the ones that stick with you; ones that are made in a muslin cloth.

Where do you travel to eat? I really like France and Spain so I head to the Pyre­nees area in south­ern France with all its mar­kets along the Basque bor­der. You get the best of both worlds. Give me bread, char­cu­terie and cheese and I’m happy. There’s a lot of sheep’s cheeses that you don’t get here, as well as some ex­cel­lent duck and wild boar salamis.

What are your go-to Lon­don spots? I like Smokestak in Shored­itch, which has an in­door bar­be­cue. It’s rus­tic but has really good flavours. I also like Burger & Lob­ster and a lo­cal pub for beers af­ter work like The Blue Post or The Clarence.

Do you have a favourite bit of kitchen kit? My Ther­momix, it’s an in­vest­ment for any kitchen. I have one at home and work. What in­gre­di­ents do you like best? I fol­low the sea­sons really. At this time of year it’s as­para­gus. My mum and dad used to grow it and I grew up with it. It’s a com­pletely dif­fer­ent ball game when you pick it straight from the gar­den and cook it.

Which dish are you most proud of? I like the vari­a­tion I do on goat’s cheese and beet­root. I’m proud of how it’s evolved and you could call it my sig­na­ture. When I look at pic­tures of when I first made it I see how much it’s grown and how it’s changed with me. I use three dif­fer­ent types of her­itage beet­root – pur­ple, golden, candy – and do them with all dif­fer­ent tech­niques like wa­ter bathed, salt-baked and carpac­cio (pick­led raw).

Where’s your favourite place in the UK for pro­duce? Be­fore mov­ing to Lon­don, ev­ery­where I worked was a coun­try house so I was lucky enough to ex­pe­ri­ence dif­fer­ent ar­eas of the coun­try. Sta­ple­ford Park in Le­ices­ter­shire is bang in the mid­dle of the coun­try, so there was lots of great fruit and veg­eta­bles. At South Lodge Ho­tel in Hor­sham we got South Downs lamb as well as top fish, as it’s only 20 min­utes from Brighton. At The Sam­ling in the Lake District there was the best of ev­ery­thing. Where do you eat in the Lake District? I still have a cot­tage in the Lakes and go up ev­ery now and again. It’s a close-knit com­mu­nity of chefs: we all know each other. I go back to the restau­rants at the Gilpin Ho­tel & Lake House and Hol­beck Ghyll. They’re the same con­cept, so they’re quite good to bench­mark your­self against. There are four or five Miche­lin stars in an 8km ra­dius, it’s quite the foodie hot spot.

GBR is the new name for Thirty Six at Dukes Ho­tel. To book a ta­ble, call 020 7491 4840 or visit gbr­restau­rantslon­don.com

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