Q & A: Russell Norman

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Russell Norman, restaurateur, writer and television presenter

The cookbook that has most influenced your cooking
The first River Cafe book

The most memorable food you ate in childhood
Sausage pie. Once a week my mother would buy pork sausage meat from the mobile butcher, spice it with white pepper, make a dense, greasy pastry and bake a ‘sausage pie’ served with peas and gravy. I loved it

Your favourite food shop
I Camisa & Son in Soho

The most memorable meal in  film/literature/painting
The omelette Stanley Tucci makes at the end of the Nineties movie Big Night

Your worst kitchen disaster
Realising you’ve run out of Parmesan

The first thing you taught your children to cook/ or were taught yourself
Me: Chocolate Cornflake cakes. My children: how to make bread

What would you like your final meal to be?
Oysters, spaghetti vongole, April Bloomfield’s burger and a pot of Yorkshire tea

What is your secret talent [in or out of the kitchen]?
I’m an excellent cocktail bartender

What did you eat for breakfast today?
An espresso AND a cup of tea

Which seasonal food do you most look forward to?
Spring is hard to beat

Over-rated/ under-rated food/seasoning/gadget
Fennel seeds, celery seeds, pink peppercorns and Dijon mustard are ingredients I use a lot but are underrated. I don’t see the point of bread making machines. What’s wrong with your hands and a large bowl?

Russell Norman’s restaurant, Polpo, is at 41 Beak Street Soho, London W1  www.polpo.co.uk. Russell is appearing at this year’s Port Eliot Festival, www.porteliotfestival.com/