Mark Di­a­cono says we need to make mis­takes when cook­ing

The Guardian - Cook - - To Finish -

big, light and brand new. We re­cently built our house, so it was the chance to de­sign it from scratch. I never thought I’d go for the mod­ern, clean, Ger­man aes­thetic, but I did: it’s all hor­i­zon­tal, clean lines with no han­dles – I’m not a vis­ually fussy per­son. The work­tops are all stain­less steel with char­coal-coloured cab­i­nets and a light green­ish-grey lime­stone floor. Ev­ery­thing is put away, ex­cept for the mixer and a few things on an is­land. I’ve one big fat shelf – about 75mm thick – along one wall with lots of jars of things fer­ment­ing.

My kitchen is …

my fry­ing pan. Fry­ing pans have long pissed me off – they stick un­less they’re non-stick, but then you have the chem­i­cal coat­ing; they’re im­pos­si­ble to clean … But re­cently I got one from Nether­ton Foundry, and it’s solved ev­ery­thing. It works a treat; it’s the per­fect big size. It makes me happy.

My favourite kitchen tool is …

olive oil, le­mons, salt, salami, pota­toes and black pep­per – with these, I know I can make a meal with what­ever else there is around.

My store­cup­board sta­ples are …

have fried eggs on toast. White cooked, mid­dle runny; it takes 2 min­utes. Salt – far more than I should – and szechuan pep­per.

When I’m starv­ing I …

… Jane Grig­son and the way she joined the dots be­tween the na­ture of the ingredient and the flavour, the cook­ing, the sto­ries. And more re­cently

My culi­nary in­spi­ra­tion is

Diana Henry – very sim­ple, non-tricksy and amaz­ing. And then the peo­ple I’ve worked with through the cour­ses we’re do­ing at Ot­ter Farm. They all have that deep knowl­edge in their field, be it gluten-free cook­ing, fer­men­ta­tion, sour­dough or cock­tails …

to be bold and in­quis­i­tive. Don’t be afraid to make mis­takes in cook­ing. Im­pro­vis­ing is what leads to dis­cov­ery.

My best-kept kitchen se­cret is … When I’m in­vited to din­ner I al­ways take …

my lat­est in­fu­sion. I do a lot of them, in what­ever sea­son. Sloe gin, quince gin … This evening, it would be a bot­tle of limon­cello.

Ev­ery­thing tastes bet­ter with …

szechuan pep­per. It’s pink and cit­russy and a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence en­tirely from any other kind of pep­per. It works with sweet and savoury dishes, and it al­ways looks won­der­ful.

write a big list but al­ways get more than I planned. I love shop­ping – it’s one of the main rea­sons why, even if I could be, I wouldn’t want to be self-suf­fi­cient.

When I go shop­ping I …

I’m hav­ing hot smoked pork ten­der­loin – from Par­tridge Hill Farm, a nearby small­hold­ing – with a gratin of Jerusalem ar­ti­choke, leek and kale. I got half a pig from them – they have or­gan­i­cally raised trad breeds, which have room to roam and are fed a mixed diet of nat­u­ral and or­ganic feed. It’s the most ex­tra­or­di­nary pork I’ve ever had.

For din­ner tonight …

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