Bruno Loubet is known for his unpretentious French provincial cooking. He made his name at L'Odeon in London but left the city in 2002 to work in Brisbane, Australia. He returned in a blaze of glory in 2010, opening Bistrot Bruno Loubet in the Zetter Hotel in Clerkenwell, which won the award for highest new entry, at number three in the UK, at the National Restaurant Awards.
What are your most and least used pieces of kitchen kit?
A speed peeler is my most used piece of equipment. It's very handy for vegetables, or for Parmesan or maybe chocolate shavings. You can even make very thin sliced vegetables with it. What do I use least? I would say a toaster, I prefer to use the grill, it gives more flavour.
If you had only £10 to spend on food, where would you spend it and on what?
I would go to a local farmers market, get a good cheese, good bread and some organic vegetable that I would cook with hay, so I could enjoy the the beautiful earthy countryside flavours. If I were to eat out with only £10, I would go to a Leon restaurant. They are always good value, tasty and interesting.
What do you eat for comfort?
Cheese, charcuterie and bread are my pleasures (with a glass of wine of course) – I'm a typical Frenchman in that respect. There is nothing better than spreading a melting Vacherin Mont d'Or on crusty bread. Or a nice piece of Pyrenees cheese, which evokes wonderful memories of my childhood – we would always have a wheel of the cheese on a plank of wood in the cellar.
If you could eat only bread or potatoes for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
Although I love bread and would miss it terribly, there are so many dishes I could make with potatoes. Sautéed, mashed, baked, roasted, cooked in embers in a fire, the list is endless. As a chef, the potato can keep life interesting.
What's your desert island recipe?
Once I'd speared some fresh fish I would pick banana leaves, wrap the fish inside the leaves alongside some citrus fruits and herbs and bake in the embers of the fire. I'd have time for a quick swim while it cooked and then when it was ready the banana leaves would act as a plate.
What's your favourite restaurant?
The Ledbury is where I have had some of the best food recently. Brett Graham is really cooking like someone who loves to eat. His food is not about novelty or fashion but all about taste and perfect balance. Le Manoir Aux Quat'Saison is always beautifully glamorous and my wife and I love to go there for a treat. This year I also had a fantastic meal at Jason Atherton's Pollen Street Social.
What's your favourite cookbook?
Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion because to me it's more than a companion, it's a bible that everyone should have to hand in their kitchen. It's full of classic recipes with alternative suggestions. Stephanie Alexander is like the Elizabeth David of Australia and helped to change the face of home cookery there.
Who taught you to cook?
My mother and grandmother were huge influences on me, as I watched them cook every day with good quality ingredients much of which they had grown or raised themselves. I was formally trained at my catering school in Bordeaux, but my learning has really come from my own curiosity for food.