Mar­i­anne Lumb on what in­spires her cook­ing

Cur­rently at the helm of bi­joux, fine-din­ing restau­rant Mar­i­anne in Not­ting Hill, the MasterChef: The Pro­fes­sion­als fi­nal­ist talks to Blos­som Green about her culi­nary idols and favourite hang­outs

Food and Travel (UK) - - Contents -

Where does your love of cook­ing come from? I’ve al­ways been fas­ci­nated by food – I love ev­ery­thing about it. My fa­ther was a butcher, so grow­ing up we’d prep and cook dishes for the shop at home. He worked very hard and didn’t have a holiday for a decade, but when I was older we would holiday in the south of France. We’d drive and stop along the way. My food is in­flu­enced by those fam­ily trips to the Med.

Where do you go on your trav­els? Next month I’m go­ing to a vine­yard in Is­tria, Croa­tia, for three days. Then I’ve got a lovely trip to Switzer­land planned. I’ve just dis­cov­ered long-lost fam­ily in Rouge­mont near Gs­taad, in the can­ton where Gruyère is made; the moun­tains are so beau­ti­ful in sum­mer. Then to Alba in Italy for the truf­fles, to have a proper sniff around – lit­er­ally. How has work­ing out­side Europe in­flu­enced your food? Syd­ney was my first real ex­pe­ri­ence of Asian cui­sine and it turned ev­ery­thing up­side down for me. Dar­linghurst, where I lived, has some amaz­ing Thai and Asian restau­rants. I’d never had a proper Thai curry be­fore and the flavour in Thai basil blew me away. We do veni­son ravi­oli with aubergines braised in miso with Thai basil oil. You could call it my sig­na­ture dish.

De­fine your style of cook­ing I tend to say that it’s mod­ern Euro­pean be­cause that gives me a bit of lee­way. I aim for it to be in­cred­i­bly el­e­gant but it has to be lick-the-plate de­li­cious. I learnt that from my time work­ing at Gravetye Manor.

Any favourite in­gre­di­ents? I love cheese – I think that’s my Swiss her­itage. And truf­fles, which I’ve only be­gun to un­der­stand and ap­pre­ci­ate over the past ten years as a chef. Then there’s ar­ti­chokes. They’re of­ten mis­un­der­stood and they’re a real labour of love, but I find them the most beau­ti­ful things. I’ve been us­ing cit­rus fruits such as miya­gawa and loads of blood or­anges.

What about food heroes and chefs that ex­cite you?

Brett Gra­ham at The Led­bury and Si­mon Ro­gan are def­i­nitely heroes. And Alain Pas­sard from Le Point; I love his food. Ana Roš in Slove­nia is a food hero­ine. There are lots of really cool women com­ing up through the ranks, like El­iz­a­beth Haigh who got a Miche­lin star for Pid­gin and is now set­ting up on her own. Eaten any­where stand­out lately? I loved Claude Bosi’s cook­ing at Hi­bis­cus, but at Biben­dum it’s an­other level. In Hong Kong, try Ar­cane. It’s a beau­ti­ful, small restau­rant run by Shane Osborn from Pied à Terre. The food’s in­cred­i­bly del­i­cate and flavour­some. In New Zealand, Am­is­field Vine­yard and Bistro is the most idyl­lic restau­rant in the world, sit­ting in an old gold­min­ing area. Vaughan Mabee’s menu is fresh and sea­sonal. Where do you take the team after ser­vice? The Cow’s great for last-minute drinks as it’s next door and has a top at­mos­phere. There’s also Cé­pages around the cor­ner. Then

The Chip­ping Fore­cast, a mod­ern fish and chip place on All Saints Road that’s really great. Bao in Soho is good fun, too.

Clock­wise from above: veni­son ravi­oli at Mar­i­anne; Mar­i­anne Lumb; ar­ti­choke; Am­is­field Vine­yard in New Zealand

Clock­wise from left: truf­fle­hunt­ing in Alba, north­ern Italy; El­iz­a­beth Haigh, who set up Pid­gin and is now at Kaizen House; Claude Bosi’s Biben­dum

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