Simple style With everything on display, ingredients and utensils take centre stage in Phil Howard’s kitchen
e’ve been living here in Barnes for 17 years. Our overhaul of the kitchen meant a lot of decluttering. It’s a simple space, but the kind of kitchen I like to work in. There are no wall cupboards full of spices that have been festering for 25 years: everything is exposed, out, stored in kilner jars
(1). Nothing can be hidden.
That’s a proper French farmhouse table (2) – there’s no history that I can shed light on, but I’m sure it has lots! It was one of the first expensive things we ever bought, from a little shop in Mortlake. The chairs are reclaimed too, and came from an amazing shop down in Dorset called Talisman.
My wife, Jen, is a real plant fanatic and she uses this metal bucket (3) often for flowers, which burst forth from it! Alternatively, we use it as a wine bucket at barbecues ...
I found these pasta gadgets (4) at a flea market in Milan about 15 years ago – it’s basically a reconditioned Garganelli roller. You get a fresh rectangular sheet of pasta, about 3 x 5 inches, and you roll it around a little stick, then across the slats, which puts grooves into the pasta as it turns. You end up with an inch-long tube of pasta with lovely markings on it – like rigatoni. For years, we served a pasta dish made in this way, with truffles shaved on top and lots of butter. These pasta gadgets have become a signature thing for us at The Square. I bought 8-10 of them and the last one is on its final legs. I always said that when the last one died I’d retire – I don’t think I’m close to retiring yet, though!
Chopping boards (5) are important things. If you want to cook, you’ve got to have a solid and appropriate surface. I hate those warped plastic things – mine here are of varying sizes – the most important thing is that they’re solid, flat, not wobbly. The one on the table came from an antique market in the French Alps. Sterilise and go.
It’s fair to say that Jen does more cooking at home than I do – she’s a great cook. I crave simple things out of the restaurant – you’ve either got to spend time or money on great food. If my wife isn’t cooking, I tend to do the latter and cook simple, delicious, healthy things – like turbot, tomatoes, green salad. I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel with my food; I have a classical palate. Ingredients are the source of all inspiration in the kitchen. Our apple (6) tree produces tons of fruit, which all gets put to work in the restaurants. This year, I have made an incredible apple and elderberry jelly, which we’ll serve with game throughout the season.
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