My Life In Food: Fergus Henderson - Features - Food + Drink - The Independent

My Life In Food: Fergus Henderson

 

A pioneer of nose-to-tale eating and a long-time advocate of the joys of offal, Henderson opened his Michelin-starred restaurant, St John, in London's Clerkenwell in 1994. Along with business partner Trevor Gulliver, he has since opened another restaurant, St John Bread and Wine in east London, and the St John Hotel in central London. He will be cooking a five-course banquet at the Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire in August.

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

I think a wooden spoon would probably be my most used thing. It is useful for stirring things, and, of course, for beating people. It's one of those useful, easy things. I don't go in for kitchen gadgets at all, really. Basic is my way. I'm a bit of a Luddite when it comes to that sort of thing.

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

I'd go to Bar Italia in Soho, which is near to where we live. I'd have a coffee and a little sandwich. They do a fine tomato, cheese and ham grilled ciabatta. And also I'd get a Fernet Branca. That would sort you out for £10.

What do you eat for comfort?

Cheese on toast, probably. Everyone likes that, don't they? I usually have a loaf of St John sourdough bread in the house, so that is a good starting point. Sourdough keeps so well – it is a fine loaf. And, in terms of cheese, I'd use up any of the little bits from the fridge. So my choice is practical then, as well as comforting.

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

Bread is fundamental. It is like a knife and fork. It's almost a tool, and it's lovely. I couldn't not have toast, too. Though I would miss potatoes very much. Mashed potato, baked, roast – they are all things I would be sad without. But still, bread has it.

What's your desert-island recipe?

Its tricky. I couldn't narrow it to one thing. Its very mood-led: you wake up and think "ooh, kidneys" or "ooh, fish pie". So I wouldn't want just one recipe and one thing.

What's your favourite restaurant?

My favourite restaurant? That is difficult. One I'd miss if it was no longer there is Le Chef in Beirut. It is a wonderful, funny, crazy place. They do lovely chickpea dishes. I first visited a couple of decades ago for a wedding and my friend introduced me to the chef. It's an extraordinary place, made more so by the fact that it has survived all troubles that have occurred around it.

What's your favourite cookbook?

I always say Marcella Hazan, The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. I like her way: it is all very simple and all the recipes she writes work wonderfully. It is very impressive, I think.

Who taught you to cook?

My mum taught me to cook. At home in Lancashire. It is surprising how many chefs' mums come from Lancashire. It is a very odd thing but you find it quite often. I can remember the first thing I ever cooked with her: it was Oeufs á la neige, which is floating islands egg white on custard. Don't know why, really – it sticks in my mind, though. I'm not sure how old I was at the time – young, though. A very long time ago.

What advice would you give to aspiring chefs?

I would give them the advice my mother gave to me: when boiling meat, do it gently, don't go crazy. It's good advice.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
tech
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
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

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week