My life in food: Jeremy Brown, chef
'If it is good enough for the Italians, it's good enough for me'
Thursday 25 July 2013
Jeremy Brown, in the kitchens at Home House since 2012, is one of Britain's most experienced chefs. He has worked at some of the most glistening stars in the British culinary firmament – Marco Pierre White, Mirabelle, Belvedere, Quo Vadis, Drones and the Ritz, where he oversaw a brigade of 55 chefs. His speciality is traditional British food cooked using the most up-to-date techniques and equipment.
What are your most – and least – used pieces of kitchen kit?
If I have one rule, it is this: don't have equipment in your kitchen if you don't use it. It is just a dust-gatherer otherwise. What couldn't I live without? My knives, for starters. But also my potato rumbler, which peels spuds. It is the best invention in the history of the professional kitchen. It has certainly made my life easier down the years.
If you had only £10 to spend on food, where would you spend it and on what?
I love Borough Market – I'd go there. If I didn't have to be in the kitchen five days a week, I would spend ages winding my way around the stalls, chatting to the people who run them. It's a good way to remind yourself what's in season. The best day to go is Friday. It isn't so crowded then and you can get around better. My tip is go with a big empty shopping bag and an empty stomach.
What do you eat for comfort?
I'm a fine-dining chef but when it comes to comfort food my ultimate is pizza. Best is a nice pepperoni one – I love to make them at home. They are quick and easy. If it is good enough for the Italians, it's good enough for me.
If you could only eat either bread or potatoes for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
Easy, I'd go for bread. There are so many different varieties: brown, white, sourdough, with nuts and seeds or lathered with garlic for the perfect starter. I love it. So much so, in fact, that I offer six different kinds to my diners.
What's your desert island recipe?
Pineapple flambé with cinnamon and cardamom-scented caramel, and a bit of vanilla ice-cream.
What's your favourite restaurant?
Its not an easy question to answer when you live in one of the great capitals of gastronomy. London has new pop-ups and high-end – and not so high-end – restaurants opening every week. If I had to choose, I would say Alyn Williams at The Westbury. My favourite dish is the veal sweetbread with chicken wings and summer truffle.
What's your favourite cookbook?
Eleven Madison Park, the New York restaurant, has a new cookbook called I Love New York. The pictures are good enough to eat.
Who taught you to cook?
Ferdinand Testka, I'd say. He was the executive head chef at the Compleat Angler and I was lucky enough to be apprenticed to him in the early 1990s. But if you are asking when did I first get passionate about cooking, I would say earlier, at the Dragon Hotel in Swansea. I used to be a kitchen porter, so I didn't get much further than washing salad leaves or making sandwiches, but watching everything going on around me ignited a real passion for the industry.
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