Kitchen confidential: Stephen Terry

'My secret to the ultimate bacon sarnie: marmalade'

My earliest food memory… Fighting with my twin brother over who would get to eat the raw cake mix out of the bowl.

My store-cupboard essentials… Marlboro Lights, crack cocaine. No, not really. I always need salted anchovies, capers, chilli flakes, good olive oil and Halen Mon sea salt.

My favourite cookbook… Heston's The Big Fat Duck Cookbook is a work of art. I ate there a long time ago but I've never felt the need to go back because you have to be in the mood to have all your senses challenged. And have pockets deep enough!

My top culinary tip… Always remember you can add but you can't take away, especially with chilli flakes and salt. And when you're cooking at home, bear in mind that you're in control. It's not the flame, it's you. Take something off the heat if you're not sure, or add a splash of water to cool something down.

My favourite food shop… A place called Eataly in Lingotto in Turin and Manhattan. It's the most amazing place I've ever been. It's like an open market with incredible fresh produce, a beautiful patisserie, a fabulous coffee shop, a butcher that looks like Hulk Hogan chopping up huge hunks of meat, an ageing room for Parmesan and hams, and a basement full of wine.

My favourite restaurant… My favourite two restaurants are Scott's and The River Café. I love them both dearly because they're incredibly seasonal. For Italian food without the pomp and circumstance it does not get any better in this country than The River Café. And Scott's is just the most amazing fish restaurant – if it swims, they've got it.

My desert-island dish… It would be a pasta dish with orecchiette – ear-shaped pasta – and chilli, garlic, anchovies and cima di rapa, which translates as turnip tops but it's more of a bitter broccoli. I love the combination of the saltiness of the anchovy and the heat of the chilli. Sometimes I do it with a bit of veal over the top.

The weirdest thing I've ever eaten… One of the strangest things I've ever seen eaten was a few months ago when the boys in the kitchen went to McDonald's. One of the lads is the lovable rogue in the kitchen who everyone has a bit of fun with, so they said we'll buy you a McDonald's but you have to drink it. They put a burger, apple pie, milkshake and chips all together in a liquidiser and he drank the lot.

My dream dining companion… Someone who loves their grub and you could have a good old natter with. Probably Rose Grey, the co-founder of The River Café, who passed away in 2010. I met her several times and she was so inspiring because so much passion flowed through her veins. There's some people you meet in life who you know it's a privilege to be in their company.

My comfort food… Bacon sarnie, without a doubt. My ultimate recipe is proper pikey white bread, salty butter (none of that spread nonsense), Heinz tomato ketchup, a secret bit of orange marmalade – for the sweet and sour – a soft-fried egg and proper bang-on quality artisan dry-cure bacon. And then lightly toasted in a contact grill so it just starts to brown the edges. Amazing.

My gastronomic guilty pleasure… Nando's hot chilli sauce. It's got just the right amount of lime and you get a good hit off it.

My tipple of choice… I'm not fussy, but I do like an Aperol with white wine or prosecco.

Stephen Terry was trained by Marco Pierre White at Harvey's and Michel Roux Jr at Le Gavroche and was awarded his first Michelin star at Canteen. He now owns The Hardwick restaurant in Abergavenny, Wales (

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