My Life In Food: Eddie Hart

 

After going into partnership with his brother Sam, Eddie opened Spanish restaurants Fino and Barrafina. In 2008 they took over Quo Vadis in Soho, refurbishing it at the end of last year and re-opening with Jeremy Lee as head chef.

What are your most and least used pieces of kitchen kit?

Most used item would be my Le Creuset pan, which I've been using for about four years. It's excellent – really weighty and large enough to roast meat and make stews and casseroles in. My least used bit of kit? A Magimix blender. I don't use it for chopping or mixing, and I don't do masses of baking – so it just sits in the cupboard.

If you had only £10 to spend on food, where would you spend it and on what?

I'd go to the The City Meat on the King's Road in Chelsea. It's run by a Spanish butcher who really knows his business. I'd buy pork belly, chorizo, mocilla and tocino (which is a sort of fat). With the rest of my money, I'd pick up some carrots, celery, onions and beans. I'd make a lovely stew, perfect for this cold weather.

What do you eat for comfort?

If I'm home really late after a long day, I love to eat sourdough bread with Seville or blood-orange marmalade. We make both in the restaurant – together and, indeed on their own, they are delicious. I also love soft-boiled eggs. I try to keep away from sweet things.

If you could eat only bread or potatoes for the rest of your life, which would you choose?

I think I would choose potatoes, for their sheer versatility. I know you can do bread pudding, breadcrumbs and all the rest of it. But you can do even more with potatoes: bake them (preferably in an Aga), make creamy mash, sauté them or chip them. I would, however, miss Poilâne sourdough and butter quite a lot – I wouldn't be able to have my comfort food with no bread.

What's your desert island recipe?

I'd take a simple salad recipe that Quo Vadis's head chef, Jeremy Lee, created. It's made up of beetroot, lamb's lettuce and soft-boiled eggs. I'd dress it with a gutsy, creamy mayonnaise-like dressing. I could eat that over and over again.

What's your favourite restaurant?

At the moment I would say St John Hotel on London's Leicester Street, the latest opening by Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver. I like all the St John restaurants – the original and Bread and Wine. I love their stylishness and beautiful interiors, and also their simple menus and unfussy approach.

What's your favourite cookbook?

Simon Hopkinson is without question my favourite cookery writer. Roast Chicken and Other Stories is particularly great. I love the recipes and their unapologetic use of full-fat, full-taste ingredients – they are recipes as they should be. But the writing is brilliant, too. I take mine up to read in bed.

Who taught you to cook?

My mother, undoubtedly. She grew up in Majorca – although she wasn't from there – and would cook spectacularly good Spanish food. I became aware how good she was when I started helping her in the kitchen in the mid-1980s when I was a teenager. I see her way of cooking and her attitude to hospitality in everything I do now.

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