Q&A Jason Atherton

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Jason Atherton, chef and restaurateur

The cookbook that has most influenced your cooking

I like The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller, it is so well produced and presented. Each time you open it there is something to inspire right there on the page

The food of love… What would you cook to impress a potential date

To treat my wife Irha I would make a crab and asparagus salad to start – I think our British brown crabs have the best taste and texture. Then a beautiful lamb dish, followed by a pistachio soufflé which has become a real signature dessert at Pollen Street Social

Your top five dinner guests, dead or alive

  • My wife Irha
  • Margaret Thatcher – It’s a bit controversial because a lot of my family are miners, but she made Britain entrepreneurial. The way she stuck to her guns and turned us around that time was incredible. She was also known to be a keen cook, so we’d probably have a fair bit to talk about – we’d have soft-serve ice-cream for dessert (which she helped develop when she was a food scientist at Oxford)
  • Trev Simpson, one of my best friends who sadly passed away
  • Ferran Adrià because he’s such an inspiration
  • And maybe Robert De Niro…

Fast food –  your top snack tip

As I travel a lot I always take a bottle of Tabasco sauce with me, no matter who you fly with, airline food is always quite bland. A guilty pleasure of mine is cheese, crisps and HP Sauce sandwiches. It sounds disgusting but it’s so good

Most memorable meal in  film/literature/painting

I was given a book by a friend call The Tribe, it’s about leadership and the words will always stay with me

Your worst kitchen disaster

Luckily I haven’t actually had many, however one time we were hosting a huge exclusive event for some really important guests at Pollen Street Social and our chef at the time totally over cooked every piece of lamb. It was an evening event and time was short so we couldn’t get any more delivered. I had to rescue the service and although it wasn’t how I wanted it to be we luckily made it through

The best thing to do with a cauliflower?

I would make a cauliflower and yoghurt puree and serve it with turbot, a wild garlic & cockle velouté – recipe can be found in my latest cookbook

What would you like your final meal to be?

I’d make classic chargrilled rib-eye steaks with chimichurri sauce

What is your secret talent [in or out of the kitchen]?

I’m pretty good at boxing, I absolutely love to keep fit and active and boxing is my new found passion

What did you eat for breakfast today?


What’s in your fridge?

We’ve recently turned quite plant-based in our family, so my fridge contains a lot of salad, vegetables and fruit

Your inheritance recipes – the one you inherited [and from whom] and the one you’d like to pass on to your children

I learnt how to cook a great Sunday roast from my Mother, as well as her delicious home-made terrine. As my wife Irha is from the Philippines, she makes an awesome adobo (a classic Philippines dish), so we will pass this on to our girls, they have grown up on it

Pollen Street by Jason Atherton is published by Absolute Press, £50

Portrait of Jason Atherton: Mattias Bjorkelund