Valentine Warner, cook, food writer and broadcaster
The cookbook that has most influenced your cooking
The Independent Cook by Jeremy Round. It was the first book that really made me think about seasonality, particularly British but also nodding to seasonal produce in other countries. It is deeply original, and the writing is very humorous. He has a fantastic recipe for baby broad beans cooked in their pods, which I love. Everyone should have a copy. They can be picked up for as little as 30p. I buy them and give them away
The food of love… What would you cook to impress a potential date, and what piece of music would accompany it?
I asked my girlfriend. Her reply was I love your duck cooked on a rack over potatoes and your Hubbard squash filled with cheese, cream, porcini and walnuts. So there you have it. Music hmmmmm… probably one of my very long playlists to prevent fidgeting … Grace Jones – Slave to the, The specials – Friday Night Saturday Morning Rhythm, Donny Hathaway- The Ghetto, cosmic Dancer – T Rex. For dancing after Dinner well it would have to be Japan – Quiet Life
The perfect dinner party: which five people (dead or alive, real or fictional) would you invite to dinner and what would you cook for them?
My father who I miss hugely and was a fabulous dinner companion anyone would be lucky to sit next to.
Angelica Huston as I have always found her totally and utterly beguiling
Bill Bailey because I was enthralled by his programme on Wallace
Bob Monkhouse as he cracks me up
Nina Simone one of my favourite singers
Fast food – your top snack tip
Cheese on toast – add a heaped tablespoon Hellmann’s mayonnaise (it keeps the cheeses soft and unctuous even when cold), a good teaspoon of Dijon mustard into the mature cheddar. Put some sliced pickled walnuts under on the toast before the filling goes on top. Lay two good anchovies on the cheese and grill until browned and bubbling Add a few very thin slices of raw red onion before attacking it while watching Vikings
Most memorable meal in film/literature/painting
The dying yakuza gangster in the Japanese film Tampico, bleeding out in a rainy street while he describes eating roasted boar’s intestines filled with half-digested sweet potatoes to his sobbing girlfriend. Brilliant
I would advise anyone who hasn’t seen La Grande Bouffe to watch it. It’s a glorious celebration of food, gluttony, sex and death all wrapped up into one absolute riot of a movie
Your worst kitchen disaster
A long story that involved a disastrous cake for Kensington palace. I can hardly bear thinking about it! But hey you can read the story of The Cake in my new book The Consolation of Food
The best thing to do with leftover sprouts and bread sauce?
Chop sprouts and chestnuts and mix with some fried onion and the last of the goose meat, all pulled into strings. Add some bits of ham if you wish. Mix with bread sauce and fry in a small frying pan. Turn out cake, fry egg. Put egg on top and pour over any leftover gravy. Winter breakfast of champions
What would you like your final meal to be?
Sitting down to tuck in my bleached white linen napkin before embarking on an enormous plateau de fruits de mer, piled with seemingly endless langoustines, mussels, oysters, winkles, whelks, crab, crevettes. A huge bowl quivering mayonnaise on the side accompanied by excellent sourdough and cold white Burgundy
What is your secret talent [in or out of the kitchen]?
Drawing – I draw a lot. Mostly things out of my head and animals. Sitting with a table full of pencils and papers, I can get lost for hours, completely losing track of time. If I wasn’t a cook I’d go down that route. Surrounded by sharpenings, scissors and bits of paper I’m a happy man. I’d add too that I’m “Born to Fish, Forced to Work”
What did you eat for breakfast today?
A morcilla I bought back from Spain, an egg and fried apple. I then went out for a coffee, ready to work at 9am
What’s in your fridge?
Two Craster kippers, one swede, 2 beetroots, half a withered Savoy cabbage, 6 potatoes, a duck neck, gizzard, and liver in a small bag, a Mont D’or cheese, half jar of rollmops, some umeboshi salted plums, some black olives. Half a bottle of champagne and too many jams and condiments to mention
Your inheritance recipes – the one you inherited [and from whom] and the one you’d like to pass on to your children
My dad’s prawn curry it is very easy to make and delivers in spades. No less than sublime. Once my children leave home, I intend for them to have a fair few recipes under their belt! If you can’t cook for yourself, you’re not a grown up
The Consolation of Food: Stories about life and death, seasoned with recipes by Valentine Warner is published by Pavilion Books, £20