Practical pieces Hand-crafted knives, an oft-signed table and stolen spoons are prized by Gill Meller
We bought this old summer house about three years ago and made it big enough for our family. South-facing, it looks out over Lyme Bay – you get beautiful views in the summer and in the winter amazing storms coming in off the sea. I built the kitchen myself, with the help of some friends, out of floorboards and roofing timbers left over from building the house. Our work surface is a repurposed gym floor and the drawers came from a science lab.
I wanted to have a very simple shelf going across the entire back wall (1) that I could put all my things on – it’s practical being able to see it all.
My dad made the kitchen table (2) for us, as a housewarming present. There’s always something happening on it! In the summer, we can carry it outside, and sit in the garden. Everyone who comes to have food with us writes their name underneath – every so often I lie down on the floor and remember who has been around.
My wife, Alice, has an interiors and homewares business, specialising in local contemporary crafts. She’s always collected old worktop and bench lamps – this is one of her finds (3).
I love all my cookbooks (4), but as I don’t have that much space, I edit them periodically. These are the ones I never let go of – Nigel Slater’s Real Cooking and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s first cookbook were both really influential when I was young. I’ve always valued Jane Grigson’s knowledge, and Fergus Henderson’s approach to cooking.
There’s something about the texture of an egg made in my mum’s old poaching pan (5) – one of those where you lift the lid and it’s got these little dishes you can lift in and out – that reminds me of being a child. You can’t make them like that any other way.
These are two of my favourite kitchen knives (6), that I couldn’t really be without. They make my working life so much nicer. One is made by Blenheim Forge in Peckham and the other by Dan Prendergast, whose knives are stunning. Subtle, unpretentious and incredibly sharp, and if you look after them they’ll stay that way. I love that they’re made by hand, with such care.
Behind is a bottle of my own red wine vinegar (7)– I got the starter about 15 years ago, from a bergerie farm restaurant in Uzès, near Avignon. I’ve been making vinegar ever since, topping it up with dregs of red wine.
When I was younger, I used to do quite a bit of outside catering, in other people’s kitchens. Every time I’d steal a wooden spoon, as a memento. So I have a collection of them (8) from various places around the country … I actually regret doing that now.
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