David Eyre: 'I often eat standing in front of the fridge late at night'


My earliest food memory...My most formative memory was when I was about 11. I grew up in Mozambique, but went to school in Rhodesia, and getting there involved a two- or three-day journey. On this one occasion, we were travelling through the forest and called into one of the many sawmills along the way, where the wife of the sawmill owner was running something of a truck-stop restaurant. I remember her saying, "You're a bit late for lunch, but we've got some roast pork," and in fact, it was this wonderful suckling peri-peri pork with fried potatoes and a stack of bread, which I ate greedily with my fingers. That was the same day I discovered the joys of cold beer, because that's all they had on offer to drink: if I was to choose a last supper, it would definitely involve those two things.

My favourite cookbook... The Food of Portugal by Jean Anderson. My copy contains the inscription "To Mum with love, Christmas 1988"; I bought it for her and managed to steal it straight back! When I was at the Eagle [the Farringdon pub credited with launching the gastropub concept in the early 1990s], pretty much everything in that book appeared at some point on my menus and I still keep it in my restaurant kitchen for inspiration now. I'm also a big fan of Claudia Roden; I have an awful lot of cookbooks, and, interestingly, hardly any of them are by chefs. I'm not really interested in typical restaurant food. My kind of gastronomy is much more domestic – something that's handed down through generations.

My culinary tip... Don't be afraid to use lard as a cooking fat – I think people are unnecessarily scared of it making them fat. You can obviously buy the stuff, but it's much better if you get some pork fat from the butcher and render it yourself. It's got a really high smoking point, and a delicious flavour – it gives a certain distinctive sweetness to what you're cooking. That's what I'll use if I'm frying a steak, for example, or even for making pastry – though I don't use it in pastry at the restaurant because there are so many vegetarians these days.

My top table... I often say that my favourite restaurants are any number of nameless, menu-less places hidden down a track that I've discovered on holiday. I also recently had a superb meal at Quo Vadis [in Soho], whose kitchen was taken over by Jeremy Lee. Particularly memorable was an absurdly good roast leg of mutton – though, like all great restaurants, it's not just about the food, but the charm, ambience and generosity of spirit that you feel there.

My dream dining companion... Elizabeth David, because she was so incredibly articulate and eloquent about food; one of my favourite books is An Omelette and a Glass of Wine [an anthology of David's essays and articles]. I never met her sadly, but those who did hung on to every word she said. Although I'd be more than a little nervous; she wouldn't suffer foolish chefs gladly.

My guilty pleasure... A badly cut doorstep sandwich, with fresh white bread and a bit of ham or some sobrasada, a pâté-like chorizo from Mallorca. I often eat standing in front of the fridge and nearly always late at night.

My pet hates... Molecular guff and all other forms of daft restaurant food: dishes stacked using metal rulers, square or rectangular plates, tiny things placed off centre [on the plate] with another tiny thing opposite and a smudge of purée in between. And I really don't want to eat an orange that looks like chicken livers – or is it the other way around? Also, I don't like fruit and meat together – things like venison and jam or duck and orange – though there are occasional exceptions: the Catalonian combination of rabbit and prunes is quite nice.

David Eyre is executive chef of Iberian restaurant Eyre Brothers, London EC2. He has recently been interviewed for the British Library's oral history archive on food (bl.uk/listening)

Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Business Development Manager / Sales Pro

    £30 - 35k + Uncapped Comission (£70k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Business Develop...

    Graduate Sales Executive / Junior Sales Exec

    £18k + Uncapped Commission (£60k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Sales Exe...

    Web Developer / Software Developer

    £25 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Web Developer / Software Developer is needed ...

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Day In a Page

    Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

    Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

    A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
    Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

    The science of herding is cracked

    Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
    Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

    This tyrant doesn’t rule

    It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
    Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

    From strung out to playing strings

    Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
    The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

    A big fat surprise about nutrition?

    The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
    Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

    Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

    The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
    On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

    On the road to nowhere

    A Routemaster trip to remember
    Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

    Hotel India

    Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
    10 best pencil cases

    Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

    Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
    Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

    Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

    Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
    Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

    Pete Jenson: A Different League

    Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
    This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

    The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

    Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
    Britain’s superstar ballerina

    Britain’s superstar ballerina

    Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
    Berlin's Furrie invasion

    Berlin's Furrie invasion

    2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
    ‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

    ‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

    Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis