Kitchen confidential: Nooror Somany Steppe

'My dream dining companion? Jennifer Lopez. I love her music'

My earliest food memory...Learning how to pound curry paste and cook rice over a charcoal stove – I grew up in Thailand's Chachoengsao province and my mum and older sister had a rice-and-curry stall in the market I used to help them with. Another vivid memory I have is making a fish soufflé to impress my mum when I was about 13: when she came to eat it, she liked the taste, but she was angry with me because I had forgotten to take out the bones!

My favourite cookbook... I love Paul Bocuse's books. I met him at a food conference in South Africa once, and I think he is the master of French cuisine. Although Thai food is [my expert field], I love doing French cooking at home as my hobby. My favourite recipe of his is probably his boeuf bourguignon. In terms of Thai food, the cook who has inspired me the most is a lady called Sisamon Kongpan, though I only got into cooking properly when I got married: when I was younger, I wanted to be a designer, so I only bought books on fashion.

The kitchen gadget I couldn't live without... My pestle and mortar. I have a very heavy stone one, which is the best kind. As well as making pastes with it, I like using it to peel garlic: rather than doing it by hand, you just crush the cloves and the skin comes straight off.

My culinary tip... I teach a lot of students, as I have a cooking school in Bangkok, and I always tell them that they don't have to follow me exactly; you need to cook with your own feeling and to your own personal taste.

My top table... If I'm in London, I love going to Nobu and Hakkasan: aside from the wonderful food, they have a great atmosphere and a very beautiful, stylish crowd. But my top table has to be at home, when my husband Thomas is cooking for me: he does the best steak with salad, home-made french fries and home-made mayonnaise.

My dream dining companion... Jennifer Lopez, because she seems to have a great personality and I love her perfume and her music: her [recent single] "On the Floor" is my ringtone! Where would I take her? My restaurant, of course, because I would want to impress her with my cuisine.

The strangest thing I've eaten... A sheep's testicle, at a food festival at the Taj Mahal, when I went to India to learn about their cuisine a couple of years ago. I asked the boy serving them what they were, and he looked at me and said, "Just try one," and only after I had did he tell me what it was. It disturbed me a lot! As does snake, which people eat in Thailand – if it's put in front of me, it makes me feel sick, because when I was a young girl, I once got a snake in my hair, and ever since that day I've been terrified of them.

My guilty pleasure... I love chocolate, but I have to diet! If I feel under pressure, I'll eat a chocolate mousse or a piece of chocolate.

My comfort food... Papaya salad with chilli. In Thailand, it's very popular as a street food, and I'll have it every few days, either from a stall or at home. If I'm feeling sleepy, I find it is always the best energy booster.

My tipple of choice... Because I use a lot of coconut milk in the things I cook, I like to start the day with healthy, freshly blended fruit and vegetable juices as a way to lower my cholesterol. One of my favourite ones to make is pineapple and passion fruit with honey, and lime. As for alcoholic drinks, I love champagne: I don't mind which brand it is, but I like to have it as a Bellini with some peach [nectar] mixed in.

Nooror Somany Steppe is the founder and executive head chef of the Blue Elephant Thai restaurant chain. The London branch has recently relocated to The Boulevard Imperial Wharf, Townmead Road, London SW6 (020 7751 3111, blueelephant.com)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Excellent opportunities are available for par...

    Investigo: IT Auditor

    £60000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits : Investigo: A global leading travel busi...

    Recruitment Genius: Chef De Partie x 2

    £16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This charming and contemporary ...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £20,000 Uncapped

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Day In a Page

    In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

    Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

    Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
    The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

    The young are the new poor

    Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
    Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

    Greens on the march

    ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

    Through the stories of his accusers
    Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

    The Meaning of Mongol

    Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
    Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

    Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

    Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
    Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

    The last Christians in Iraq

    After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
    Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Britain braced for Black Friday
    Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

    From America's dad to date-rape drugs

    Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

    The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
    Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
    Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

    Flogging vlogging

    First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

    US channels wage comedy star wars
    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

    When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible