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
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Product Development

    £26000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Product Development departm...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

    £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

    Recruitment Genius: Developer

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Estates Contracts & Leases Manager

    £30000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Estates Team of this group ...

    Day In a Page

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
    Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
    Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

    Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

    Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
    Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

    Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

    The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
    Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

    Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

    His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

    Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future