Ja­cob Kenedy Moro’s founders nur­tured a boy fresh from school into the chef he is today, half a life­time later. His first dish was em­blem­atic of their food ethos

The Guardian - Cook - - Feature - Ja­cob Kenedy is chef-pro­pri­etor of Bocca di Lupo and Plaque­m­ine Lock restau­rants in Lon­don; @ja­cobkenedy

Sa­muel taught me to rel­ish chaos and Sa­man­tha to rel­ish or­der: both taught me to rel­ish food

Moro threw a tidal wave across Lon­don’s culi­nary scene 20 years ago, and it buoyed me up as a chef in the flot­sam. I first ate there a month af­ter it opened, while still a school­boy. I loved the food (still do, al­ways will), so mum and a dear friend Zaki Elia en­cour­aged me to speak with the Sams to ask if I could spend a week in their kitchen. For all their bril­liance, they were mo­men­tar­ily fool­ish enough to let me in – the day I left school. A week be­came six months, and since then I have been a chef. The Sams’ food is at once com­fort­ing and ex­otic – ex­cit­ing and whole­some.

The first dish I ever made at Moro, was their salad of seared beef with white grapes, bar­ley, su­mac and pars­ley, which seems so mad, ut­terly de­li­cious and typ­i­cal of the feel­ing be­hind their cui­sine.

Sa­muel taught me to rel­ish chaos and Sa­man­tha to rel­ish or­der: both taught me to rel­ish food. They taught me how lit­tle I knew by show­ing me so many new things, by build­ing up rather than break­ing down. They taught me to like cheese, to love fat, to work in a team, to make a fam­ily at work, to go out, to have fun, to hold my liquor, to love cook­ing, to love life, and to ex­press those loves through food.

Sam and Sam taught me to be a chef. I may never for­give them, and can never re­pay them, but will love them for it, for­ever.

Seared sir­loin salad with pearl bar­ley, grapes and su­mac

In this Le­banese recipe, sweet grapes bal­ance the tart­ness of the su­mac.

Serves 4

50g pearl bar­ley

2 sir­loin steaks (about 500g in to­tal) A driz­zle of olive oil

2-3 bunches fresh flat-leaf pars­ley, leaves picked

350g white grapes, halved and seeded Sea salt and black pep­per

For the mari­nade

½ onion, grated

1 tbsp red wine vine­gar

1 tsp su­mac

1 tsp co­rian­der seeds, freshly ground A pinch of freshly ground all­spice A pinch of freshly ground black pep­per

For the dress­ing

1 small gar­lic clove, crushed to a paste with salt

1 tbsp red wine vine­gar

4 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp su­mac

A pinch freshly ground all­spice

A pinch freshly ground co­rian­der seeds

1 Sim­mer the bar­ley in 1 litre wa­ter for 45 min­utes, or un­til ten­der. Drain and set aside to cool.

2 Com­bine all the mari­nade in­gre­di­ents and rub evenly over the steaks. Leave to mar­i­nate for 1-2 hours.

3 Blend all the dress­ing in­gre­di­ents to­gether and sea­son.

4 When the steak is ready, get a grid­dle pan smok­ing hot. Rub the steaks with oil and lay on the grid­dle. The meat only needs about 30 sec­onds on each side. Sea­son with salt as the sir­loin is turned. Set aside to rest for a minute.

5 Mean­while, put the bar­ley, pars­ley leaves and grapes in a bowl, add the dress­ing and mix well. Taste and ad­just the sea­son­ing. Slice the steak into 1cm thick slices across the grain. Toss half with the salad and lay the rest of the strips on top. Serve im­me­di­ately.

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