My Life In Food: Adam Byatt, chef
Friday 17 February 2012
A veteran of the kitchens at Claridge's, The Berkeley and the two-Michelin-starred The Square, Byatt has two London restaurants of his own, Trinity and Bistro Union. He also has a cookbook, How to Eat In (Random House), and regularly appears on BBC1's Saturday Kitchen.
What are your most and least used pieces of kitchen kit?
My most used piece of equipment would have to be my Japanese mandoline, it's constantly in use in my kitchen – I run through one every two months. They give a really accurate, polished finish to whatever you are using them on.
What's my least used piece of kit? Well, on a whim I bought a candyfloss machine about three years ago. I got it into my head that it would be great to use it in dishes in the restaurant; I don't think I've ever turned it on.
If you had only £10 to spend on food, where would you spend it and on what?
I'd go to Roast in Borough Market in south London. It does delicious devils on horseback, which is a prune wrapped in bacon. The smoky and salty come together so well in them. They are one of those quintessentially British foods.
What do you eat for comfort?
I'm quite partial to a Jaffa Cake at varying points throughout the day – it's a childhood thing. But after a long day, you'll mostly find me eating sourdough bread with cheese. I take home a loaf of our home-made stuff from the restaurant each week. And I have it with lots of Montgomery's Cheddar.
If you could eat only bread or potatoes for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
It would have to be bread. I know it's less versatile than potatoes, but it just has something they don't. It's so comforting and the ritual of it is important, too: the kneading of the dough, the baking of it and that lovely smell, and then the breaking of it while it's still warm – it's a larger experience.
What's your desert-island recipe?
My Yorkshire pudding recipe. First, preheat an oven to 200C and put in your duck-fat-greased muffin tins. Now mix five eggs with just over 0.25kg of flour and whisk until the lumps have gone, add in half a spoon of English mustard and slowly mix in 0.5 litres of milk. Then half-fill the muffin tins with the batter, close the oven and don't open for 10 minutes.
What's your favourite restaurant?
For all-round experience, I'd say The Wolseley, in central London. The food is always consistently good and accessible – nothing is too fancy – and there is always something on the menu you want to eat. It doesn't intimidate, either; the style is luxurious but everyday. If I were just thinking about food, however, I'd say Noma. It just pushes every boundary of what food can be.
What's your favourite cookbook?
Fergus Henderson's Nose to Tail Eating. The recipes work out exactly as they say. For its depth and the theorising behind it, I'd also say Meat by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
Who taught you to cook?
John Williams at Claridge's. The discipline and professionalism, the hierarchy of the kitchen and the respect for ingredients, that all came from John.
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