My life in food: Jeff Galvin, chef and restaurant owner
"Bread is my guilty pleasure - a classic French baguette is my favourite"
Thursday 08 August 2013
Chef Jeff Galvin grew up in Essex with his brother Chris, 12 years his senior and also a chef. The brothers both began their careers at a small neighbourhood restaurant run by Antony Worrall Thompson. After culinary school, Jeff went to work at the Savoy Hotel. In 1994, he became sous chef of Nico Ladenis' Chez Nico, where he was part of the team that was awarded a coveted third Michelin star. In 2005, he and Chris joined forces and opened their first restaurant, Galvin Bistrot de Luxe in London's Baker Street. Since then, another six Galvin restaurants have opened, including two in Scotland. They will be hosting a special grouse dinner on 12 August at their Michelin-starred restaurant, Galvin La Chapelle, in London's Spitalfields.
What are your most- and least-used pieces of kitchen kit?
My most used is probably my Japanese chef’s knife. I use it for just about everything I do in the kitchen. What do I never use? Well, I bought a little truffle mandolin, thinking I would constantly be using it – however, it didn’t quite work out. We always cut our truffles freehand. I use my really, really sharp Japanese knife to cut them.
If you only had £10 to spend on food, where would you spend it and on what?
I would spend it on meat, the best quality stuff I could get from the butchers. I would buy a little bit less but the best quality.
What do you eat for comfort?
A nice bowl of pasta is my comfort food. I just use some basil, some Parmesan and some olive oil – that combination is just brilliant.
If you could eat only bread or potatoes for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
Definitely bread. It’s my guilty pleasure. I love it. In fact, for me that question is so easy. A good classic French baguette is my favourite. I know I shouldn’t eat too much of it, but it’s hard.
What’s your desert island recipe?
I think probably a good bread recipe, to be honest, so that goes perfectly with the last question. It’s the smell. I really love home-baked bread. It’s one of those things that’s just not the same if you buy it somewhere else.
What’s your favourite restaurant?
There’s a restaurant called Chez Bruce in south-west London. It’s really great quality and very accessible and relaxed. It’s a great neighbourhood restaurant. It’s sort of multi-purpose: you can have a business lunch there, and then you could have a family lunch on Sunday. There’s a great chef over there called Bruce Poole, who I’ve admired for many years. I think people have the notion that you go to the restaurants that are new and that is it, but this has probably been there for 20 years now and really has been performing at the top end.
What’s your favourite cookbook?
I’m a bit biased because I helped with the recipes, but it’s a book called Nico by a chef I used to work for, Nico Ladenis. I look back on it as a great period – it was when we were doing the book that we got the third Michelin star. Nico was one of the best chefs I ever worked for.
Who taught you to cook?
My brother. I run my restaurants with my brother and I work with him today and my first job was in his kitchen. I had a three-year apprenticeship with him, in fact, so he’s probably my biggest mentor.
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