Gizzi Erskine: 'My background is in butchery; I don't get the same thrill from baking'


I cooked from a young age My mum was single parent, so she'd use us in the kitchen like little slaves, peeling the vegetables and doing the washing up. She had a lot of dinner parties for which she needed a lot of help with complicated food. I got a thrill from cooking things such as whole salmon.

I became a body piercer after I left school at 15 After a while, though, I felt I wasn't fulfilling my potential, so at 22 I did a course at Leiths School of Food and Wine; I had a lot of drive there as I felt I had a lot to prove.

I never get the opportunity to show what I'm capable of on TV It's a struggle as a female chef on television, because you're generally asked to do baking and cupcakes. But my background is butchery and working in proper restaurants, and I don't get the same thrill from baking.

I hate the British style of éclair It's filled with whipped cream, but with a proper éclair you have to have it with Crème patissière – the thick French custard cream. If you go to a proper French patisserie, that's how they serve it. It's also how I've served it as part of my remix of the Rock Tea at the W Hotel in London.

You have to be yourself I have a specific look with a specific theme: the tattoos and wearing my hair in a beehive. But during an early stage in my career I was really worried that people didn't get me, so I started to conform a bit. And that was a big mistake as suddenly I didn't recognise myself. And there were jobs I didn't get, as they wanted someone edgy.

I'm a bit of a scenester I've DJ'd rockabilly music since I was 15; it's hillbilly rock'n'roll from the 1950s, and people tend to wear 1950s and 1960s clothes, too. You can't listen to the music from that period without wanting to dance. I hate the idea of conformism. The UK does well with its subcultures, and I find people involved in them creative and interesting.

I like weird stuff I love taxidermy and I'm really into how the Victorians stuffed their pets and also how they stuffed mascots to show their hunting skills. I have a beautiful stuffed peacock, called Percival, in my living-room.

I've got a lot of energy But I can go into meltdown when things around me are not going to plan. I suck at coping.

I love fried chicken I used to be tempted by fast-food fried chicken, until I learnt more about how it's processed. Now I make my own: I marinate chicken breast in buttermilk with a bit of chilli sauce and a load of salt to bind it, and leave it overnight. In the morning I drop it in a mixture of self-raising flour, rice flour and potato flour, for a bit of chew. Then I add southern-fried seasoning and I confit it in oil and ramp up the heat at the end, to get the crunch.

Gizzi Erskine, 33, is a chef. Her remix of the W London Rock Afternoon Tea will be available at the Central London hotel until 26 June (

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