Sim­ple style With ev­ery­thing on dis­play, in­gre­di­ents and uten­sils take cen­tre stage in Phil Howard’s kitchen


The Guardian - Cook - - A Cook’s Kitchen - Phil Howard is chef and owner of Elystan Street restau­rant, London

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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