Adam Byatt, chef, restaurateur
The cookbook that has most influenced your cooking
I find myself always coming back to Forgotten Skill of Cooking by Darina Allen. This book touches on the importance of passing cooking skills on to our younger generations; a wonderful tradition that seems to be somewhat diluted in recent years. The recipes are great and the book is written with intelligence and charm.
The most memorable food you ate in childhood
The most memorable food that I ate in my childhood would have to be my dad’s favorite: ham, egg and chips all the way. This was a Friday-night supper at home, served slightly later than usual and after which I’d be put to bed without having had a bath. I can remember the smell of the chips on my fingers in bed. The crazy things food helps you remember…
Your favourite food shop
My restaurants will always, live and die by the quality of our ingredients — I can’t think of another supplier that has remained as consistent and dedicated to their passion as Vallebona (http://v2b.uk/). Their produce is faultless and takes me right back to my happiest times spent on the Island of Sardinia. One of the most iconic shops in Clapham is M Moen & Sons (http://moen.co.uk/), a fantastic butcher’s shop and our local meat suppliers at the restaurant, whose presence was one of the reasons that I decided to open up shop in Clapham back in 2001.
Most memorable meal in film/literature/painting
For me, the most memorable fictional meal would have to be either The Last Supper or the dinner scene in Godfather.
Your worst kitchen disaster
Being so obnoxious in my kitchen in my earlier years that I found myself alone with no chefs a full check board and many unhappy guests. Great lesson in man management.
The first thing you taught your children to cook/ or were taught yourself
One of the first things that I taught my children how to cook was boiled eggs and soldiers with marmite. The skills here are not the eggs, it’s understanding how long four minutes is, why rich eggs and salt work together and cooking food from ambient temperature — so many lessons in boiled eggs.
The first meal that I ever cooked was a Beef Wellington at 14.
What would you like your final meal to be?
If I were able to experience one last meal without any restrictions, it would be with my wife Vicki and our children, plus some of our foodie friends. We’d be in a chateau in France during late autumn with open fires, cigars and brandy to follow. The menu would read something like this: native oysters, whole crab mayonnaise, core de veau (veal cutlet) with creamed spinach and morels, custard tart, truffled vacherin cheese, chocolate, strong coffee and grappa.
What is your secret talent [in or out of the kitchen]?
I quizzed my wife for an answer to this one and she couldn’t think of anything… however, I was a sponsored as a skateboarder in a former life.
What did you eat for breakfast today?
My morning ritual is pretty consistent breakfast-wise; it takes the shape of a pot of Monmouth press coffee and a small bowl of porridge with brown sugar, cold milk and a small nugget of salted butter. I cook this for the whole family and have timed it so that I can cook it to perfection in the exact time it takes me to have a shower and get dressed. The secret is large oats and whole milk. The slow release benefits or porridge mean that I can get through until lunch time.
Which seasonal food do you most look forward to?
English asparagus still gives me goose bumps.
Most over-rated/ under-rated food/seasoning/gadget
I find that people tend to overrate Scandinavian-influenced restaurants in the UK. I don’t think that this trend will last, as people begin to realize that the style typical of new wave Nordic restaurants only really and truly works in its original location.
I think that the most underrated kitchen tool is a sharp, sharp knife. The simplest kitchen gadget most people forget about. Makes all the difference